Carolina Panthers linebacker named honorary pace car driver for Coke 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Making friends with a member of the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Tuesday wasn't all that easy for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a diehard fan of the Washington Redskins. The driver's outward allegiance to a rival team wasn't lost on Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis , who rode along with Earnhardt at rapid speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway , shortly after gaining his certification to be the honorary pace car driver for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). "It's OK. I mean, we take care of the Redskins, like I said earlier," Davis said, fully aware of his team's three straight victories against Washington. "I'm pretty sure he knows." Davis' crossover into the world of NASCAR was a seamless one, as the 10th-year pro was unfazed as a passenger for Earnhardt's five-lap thrill ride. Part of Davis' nonchalance perhaps stemmed from the similar intensity of his day job, delivering hard hits as part of the Panthers defense. "I ran that thing as hard as it'd go," said Earnhardt, who estimated he approached speeds of nearly 175-180 mph in a Richard Petty Driving Experience machine with his No. 88 colors. "I was watching him over there. He wasn't impressed. He was filming the whole thing with his phone, like he was riding down the interstate." The connection between Earnhardt and Davis reaches further than their common ground as participants in adrenaline-fueled sports. Davis' humanitarian efforts earned him recognition as the 2014 recipient of the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an accolade sponsored by Nationwide -- an Earnhardt sponsor. Those bonds, as well as their mutual affiliation with the Charlotte community, have helped Earnhardt separate his fandom from his personal interactions with Panthers players. "Actually, it's gotten easier," Earnhardt said. "I've got a lot of friends -- real, real close friends -- that are Panthers fans and they make it real hard to pull for the Panthers the way they act and cheer for their team is just … I don't know. Some of my close buddies, they just don't have any class when it comes to the Panthers, especially when they beat the Redskins. I have to hear about it years and years later, and they beat 'em two years ago and I still hear about that. "But I got to get to know (Panthers tight end Greg) Olsen really good, working together with him on some stuff for our charities and he restored my faith in the football team. I really appreciate what they do for the Charlotte community and the area. Obviously, being a business owner in downtown Charlotte with Whisky River, they have a huge influence on our business and our company and the decisions we make, and they're something that we're very proud of. I'll always pull for the Redskins, number one, but I'm definitely warming up to the Panthers after meeting some of the players. They've got some genuine, quality people on their team, and Thomas is one of them." The two athletes exchanged helmets as gifts before their ride-along, but Earnhardt said he hadn't given much thought to making a sports crossover of his own. The 40-year-old driver said he's attended Redskins training camps in the past, but seemed content to limit his football participation to made-for-TV backyard games in Wrangler commercials. "I'm really nervous and shy, so I don't know if I'd want to put myself out there like that," Earnhardt said, noting that he was always too small to suit up in high school. "But just because I'm a fan of a particular sport doesn't mean I think I'm very talented in it at participating. I enjoy the occasional softball game with my buddies or basketball in the gym with my friends. And I love going to the training camp to see the 'Skins and just get an idea of how the team feels and how their morale is and their energy on the field is when they're training, but I don't need to be out there trying to play." Davis' own training exercise Tuesday was slightly less rigorous, but he still earned a thumbs-up from NASCAR official Wayne Auton to lead the 43-car field to the green flag in Sunday's 600-miler, stock-car racing's longest event. In some ways, Davis said, his pace-car duties are nothing new, drawing yet another parallel to Earnhardt's day job. "I'm always ready to perform on Sunday," Davis said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matthew Dillner roams the NSCS garage at Dover International Speedway to talk with drivers and be pelted by apples from Matt Kenseth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes Carolina Panthers linebacker, Thomas Davis , for a few high-speed laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway. Davis will also be the honorary pace car for the Coca-Cola 600.
Piece of lead off another car damages No. 55 ride, hits driver in helmet Photo credit: @JasonToy1 NEWTON, Iowa – Talk about a welcome back gift. Jamie Dick , driver/owner of the No. 55 Viva Motorsports Chevrolet, returned to competition at Iowa Speedway on Saturday for the first time since being diagnosed with new onset diabetes in March. It started off with a bang -- literally. While coming back onto the track from pit road, a piece of lead came off of the No. 4 car driven by Ross Chastain , impaling Dick's Camaro in the upper left portion of its windshield. The hit was so hard, it destroyed the laminated windshield and protruded through, hitting and leaving a noticeable dent in Dick's helmet. "It was a rough return (to the track)," Dick joked in between practice sessions for Sunday's NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 (2 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "I was following another car out and when we pulled off pit road and got on the race track, I saw a piece of something; I thought it was a brake deck hose because it was silver and cylindrical. When we got down into the corner, I saw another piece of that fly out and I kind of dodged it. "Then a split second after that, the lead hit the windshield. I don't know if it was lead or tungsten, but whatever it was, it hit the windshield. I didn't even see it before it hit, I just saw the windshield cave in and I felt it. I didn't even realize it hit me (in the helmet) until we came in. I might've felt it, but everything happened so fast you don't know exactly when you feel it." Dick was checked for concussion symptoms and cleared in the infield care center and he said he felt "fine." His car, on the other hand, not so much. Aftermath of Jamie Dick getting hit with a piece of lead on the race track. Dented his helmet. #NASCAR #3M250 pic.twitter.com/R6hUB2BrxQ — Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) May 16, 2015 The single-car No. 55 team (which also employs Jeffery Earnhardt as a part-time driver) was forced to use a backup car for the second session and planned on replacing the backup car's engine with a separate backup engine after an oil issue cropped up in the replacement. For a driver that's already conquered a mountain of adversity already this season in the form of his new disease just to get back to racing, Saturday's events certainly didn't make things any easier. Dick immediately received plenty of support from his peers, as Ty Dillon and several other drivers came over to his garage stall after practice ended to check on him. Chastain and team owner Johnny Davis did come by to apologize to Dick and make sure he was OK. While it wasn't necessarily his fault, Chastain also tweeted a full apology shortly after the incident. pic.twitter.com/sVx3nnQ2ns — Ross Chastain (@RossChastain) May 16, 2015 NASCAR officials were also quick to the scene. "NASCAR was there right away inspecting and seeing what happened," Dick said. "The laminated windshield did its job, which is the good part, and that's something they implemented a year ago or so. That held up or else it would've been a much worse day." While Dick said it isn't really for him to say whether or not the No. 4 team should be penalized for what happened, he mentioned he "would be very surprised if there wasn't one." NASCAR XFINITY Series director Wayne Auton addressed the situation Saturday afternoon and indicated the issue would be brought up during Tuesday's debrief at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. "Number one, safety is our biggest concern out of anything that we do in motorsports," Auton said. "It's a sport that there’s 10,000 revolving pieces 24/7 when vehicles are on the race track or they're sitting here in the garage area. "Notoriously, penalties are discussed on Tuesdays and that will definitely be discussing that one Tuesday. Any time that we have found weight coming out of race cars on the race track, we've been pretty harsh about it. We have to be. That's part of it. People are sitting up here in the grandstands and drivers sitting inside these race cars. We'll discuss it Tuesday … pretty confident something will come out of that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ty Dillon makes veteran-like moves to stay out of a big crash late.
Taryn Davis lost her husband in battle and founded the American Widow Project.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Voting Day set for May 20 RELATED: Steve Byrnes to vote on NASCAR Hall of Fame heroes DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR today announced several revisions to the NASCAR Hall of Fame (NHOF) Voting Panel. The 58-member panel will vote for the NHOF Class of 2016 on Wednesday, May 20 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to be announced that afternoon in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Great Hall. For the first time, new NASCAR broadcast partner NBC will be represented on the Voting Panel. Below are the eight new members of the NHOF Voting Panel. • Ron Bennett, Holland (New York) Motorsports Complex • Jeff Burton , NBC Sports Network • Steve Byrnes, FOX Sports 1 • Brent Dewar, NASCAR • Eli Gold, Motor Racing Network • Kevin Harvick , reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion • Marty Smith, ESPN • Jim Utter, Charlotte Observer A full list of the panel members can be found below. "These eight new voters collectively hold a vast array of NASCAR knowledge from all disciplines of the industry," said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer. "Each new member brings a unique background and passion for the history of NASCAR and will contribute greatly to the Hall of Fame voting process." The 22-member Nominating Committee -- which includes the additions of Bennett and Dewar -- will meet on Friday, Feb. 20 in Daytona Beach, Florida, to discuss, debate, and vote for the 20 NHOF Class of 2016 nominees and five nominees for the second Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The results will be announced that afternoon at Daytona International Speedway . Additionally, Dr. Jerry Punch will move to the voting panel for the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. The fifth recipient of the award will be announced during the July race weekend at Daytona. The NHOF Class of 2015, which includes Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White, will be officially inducted on Friday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. ET live on NBC Sports Network. NOMINATING COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; President Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook. Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of director member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX. VOTING PANEL The Voting Panel consists of the above 22-member Nominating Committee and the following 36 representatives. In addition a Fan Vote is the 59th -- and final -- vote. American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association: Dusty Brandel, AARWBA President. Eastern Motorsports Press Association: Ron Hedger, EMPA President. National Motorsports Press Association: Brian Nelson, NMPA President. Print & Online Media: Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com; Jenna Fryer, Associated Press; Al Pearce, Autoweek; Jim Pedley, RacinToday.com; Bob Pockrass, Sporting News; Nate Ryan, USA Today; Jim Utter, Charlotte Observer. Broadcasters: Rick Allen, NBC; Jeff Burton , NBCSN; Steve Byrnes, FS1; Eli Gold, MRN; Dave Moody, SiriusXM; Doug Rice, PRN; Marty Smith, ESPN. Manufacturers: Jim Campbell, Chevrolet; Edsel Ford, Ford; David Wilson, Toyota. Retired Drivers: Ned Jarrett; Richard Petty; Ricky Rudd. Retired Car Owners: Junior Johnson; Bud Moore; Robert Yates. Retired Crew Chiefs: Buddy Parrott; Waddell Wilson; Eddie Wood. Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion : Kevin Harvick . Industry Leaders: Former NASCAR Senior Vice President Paul Brooks; MRN announcer Barney Hall; Retired Associated Press writer Mike Harris; former motor sports journalist Tom Higgins; former broadcaster Ken Squier; former Charlotte Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matthew Dillner takes you inside the NASCAR Nationwide Series Garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Drivers share hairstyles and talk new qualifying rules in this week's NASCAR Nationwide Series GarageCam replay.
Trailblazer becomes first African-American inducted into NASCAR Hall Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See the NASCAR Hall of Fame class by class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wendell Scott often broadcast his do-it-yourself work ethic on his cars, which frequently sported hand-painted letters to read: "Mechanic: Me!" Though Scott's automotive know-how was largely self-made, he usually had an audience of his seven children watching, begging to help the family cause within their Danville, Virginia shop. Scott would often shoo his kids out, telling them to go play elsewhere. But for young Deborah Scott, she yearned to be in her father's racing shop just a little while longer. "I loved it when he would be on the creeper under the car working and he needed a tool," she recalled. "… It grew on me. I started liking to get dirty." Now married as Deborah Scott Davis , 64, she was part of a vocal contingent of friends and family with Danville ties witnessing her father's induction Friday evening as part of the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. On a night filled with stories pulled from NASCAR lore, Davis' remembrances from her youth stood out. As she joined her siblings to receive a proclamation from the town's mayor late Friday night, her brother Frank remarked that Davis deserved credit as likely the best mechanic of the bunch. His comment came without exaggeration -- Davis transferred a lifetime of automotive knowledge handed down from her father into a long career building cars for Ford Motor Company, first at an assembly plant in the Atlanta area and now near her Louisville, Kentucky home. Davis still has fond memories of those days growing up, watching her father do more with less. And like her father, who died in 1990, she shouldered many responsibilities for the family-run race team, helping as a mechanic's assistant, the team's scorekeeper and -- when she was old enough to get her driver's license -- a parts runner. Davis said some of the most gratifying help she offered the family racing effort was as the official scorekeeper, back in the old-school days before electronic timing and scoring was even a dream. Back then, one person with a score sheet was assigned to each car. Each score sheet had a number of small boxes for each lap, and the scorekeeper dutifully marked the time from the scorer's clock in each numbered box whenever their car came past. By Davis' estimation, she only missed one lap in her time as scorekeeper, which ended only when she left for college. That lap was early in the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , when a multi-car crash triggered a massive fire that eventually claimed the life of Fireball Roberts, a fellow member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Scoring Roberts' car that day was his daughter, Pamela, who Davis -- also a teenager at the time -- counted among her best friends. "We sat there and were watching our fathers, and her dad didn't come around," Davis recalled, "and we saw this black, rolling smoke behind us and when we turned back to look on the backstretch, I missed my dad going by. Her dad couldn't come by." Because events on the larger speedways of the era used backup scorers, Scott's missed lap was restored and he remained credited with a ninth-place finish. "I didn't cost him any positions or any money," Davis said, "but that was one of the incidents where I promised never, no matter what happened, I would keep my attention." MORE: Best photos from the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction " Scott among five inductees Davis said the children wouldn't travel to every race, mostly to those close enough to the family's home and on dates that wouldn't interfere with their school work. That's why, she said, none of them were present when Scott posted his only victory in NASCAR's top division on a school night -- Sunday, Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. "Of course, we all wish we had been," Davis said. "Of all the races, we weren't there." When Scott came home as a winner, he received a warm welcome. But the politics of the time wouldn't allow an African-American driver a celebration with the checkered flag or the trophy queen, tempering the family's excitement. Scott was eventually credited with completing 202 laps in the scheduled 200-lap race, but that achievement wasn't recognized on that Sunday night in Jacksonville. "Mixed emotions because here it was, he had won, but not in the right honorable way that he should've been able to celebrate because as you know, he knew he was winning the race," Davis said. "He knew when he took the lead and how many more laps there were to go and as history tells it now, correctly, yes, he did go two laps extra to win the race and still not receive the honor at that time." Race officials initially credited runner-up Buck Baker with the victory, claiming that a scoring error had taken place. If Davis had been there, she said, there would have been no dispute. "They couldn't have gotten around me," she said. "I really don't believe they could have gotten around me." Davis' expertise with a wrench extended beyond helping on the race car. Frank Scott recalled a trip to Michigan International Speedway in the 1960s, traveling with his father, his sister and brother Wendell Jr. -- four of them on the single bench seat -- when the truck hauling the race car broke down. Wendell Sr. and Jr. hitchhiked to the nearest township to get parts, leaving Frank and his sister to prepare the engine for the repairs. "Daddy said to have the motor torn down by the time he got back," Frank Scott said. "Deborah got up under the hood, and I was breaking the bolts to loosen them and she would take them out. She was like a little grease monkey, and that kind of led her into her adult life when she joined the automotive division working for Ford in Atlanta. Even right then, she started cutting her teeth. She had a mechanical instinct and didn't mind getting grease up under her nails." Friday night in Charlotte, the Scott family had the largest delegation of supporters of any of the five inductees, with Frank Scott estimating the number to be "in excess of 100" and from all over the country. For Deborah Scott Davis , the wait to hear her father's name called was a long time coming, but one made all the more satisfying because her mother, Mary, who could not attend the induction because of her health, was able to hear it as well. "Deservingly so," Davis said. "I think the time aspect, I think our friends and some of the fans didn't understand why he wouldn't be in the first class, the second class -- I'm OK with the timing of it. Just in the nick of time, I feel like, while our mom is still here. Couldn't have happened in a better year. "When the announcement was made, it just automatically lifted me out of the chair. Yes, finally -- whew! Years before, you can't be but so sad. At least he's nominated, at least he's getting closer and closer, and then it happened. It means so, so much."