Rick Hendrick: Dale Jr. 'on track' for Daytona 500
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Team owner Rick Hendrick shed light Friday on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s timetable to return to NASCAR competition, saying he anticipated his driver to be on pace to compete in time for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Earnhardt Jr., 42, has been sidelined from the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet since July after two severe crashes left him with concussion-like symptoms. He was ruled out for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season in September. "I think sometime in December the doctor's going to give him the final clearance and then we'll get him in a car," Hendrick said Friday after a news conference with the Sprint Cup Championship 4 car owners at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "He feels great. Everything's on track. I mean, every step that we supposedly need to go through, we've gone through, and I don't see anything holding us back." Earnhardt, who has been working on rehabilitation of his neurological conditions since this summer, reiterated that intention last month at Martinsville Speedway , saying in a pre-race interview that "we're booking things as normal" ahead of the 2017 season. That included sponsorship plans, photo shoots and other logistical agreements in preparation for next year. But Earnhardt Jr. also indicated he was eager to return to NASCAR's premier series, something Hendrick reaffirmed Friday. "He sent me a text the other day that he was excited and waiting for Daytona," Hendrick said. "I think we've just got a couple more hurdles to clear." Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have split time in Earnhardt's No. 88 this season, with Gordon filling in for eight races and Bowman set to make his 10th start of the year in Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Gordon has indicated that he's likely to resume his retirement from racing next season unless called upon by Hendrick. As for Bowman, the 23-year-old racer who competes part-time in the XFINITY Series has said he's still uncertain what his driving responsibilities -- beyond simulator work for Hendrick's team -- will be in 2017. Friday, Hendrick was uncertain as well. "Alex is a good guy. He's helped us in a lot of ways," Hendrick said. "We're just kind of taking that one a day at a time. He's done testing for us, he's done simulation for us and he's really done a good job. We're just kind of taking it a day at a time. We don't really have any certain plan." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Daniel Suárez receives hero's welcome in Mexico City
MEXICO CITY -- A NASCAR championship aside, Daniel Suárez is still making his name known in the United States. In his native Mexico, his name is etched in gold. He’s a rock star, the kind of guy who draws large crowds of adoring fans, each one seeking an autograph or selfie or handshake or high-five. Need proof? Just look at the crowd that packed Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Sunday. Suárez served as the grand marshal of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series exhibition race, continuing a whirlwind celebration that hasn’t stopped since he won the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship last month. Suárez could barely take a step without posing for a picture, signing an autograph or hearing the words “felicidades campeón (translation: congratulations, champion).” "I was expecting something good , but this was great," said Suárez, shortly after a large group of photographers captured a photo of him posing with the Mexican flag. "Every time I talk about this, I feel very, very happy for all the fans, all the teams and everyone who has been helping me to get to this point -- the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship." Hoy fue uno de los días más especiales del año! Gracias a todos los fans de @NASCARPEAKMX por si amor y cariño!! De corazón GRACIAS!!!! pic.twitter.com/cVBBoyWkuN — Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) December 4, 2016 Suárez went out of his way to show his appreciation to fans who came to see him in Mexico City. After being interviewed over the public address system, Suárez slowly walked down the length of the frontstretch and waved to all of his fans. Chants of "Dani! Dani! Dani!" could be heard as a beehive of photographers followed his every step. It’s no shock that Mexican fans know him well. The 24-year-old from Monterry, Mexico, was the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series Rookie of the Year in 2010. He finished third in the championship battle in 2012 and runner-up in 2013. His star power grew in the process. Such potential made him an inaugural member of the NASCAR Next program, NASCAR’s initiative that spotlight’s the sport’s rising young stars. And now he’s a champion, basking in the glory he earned during the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. Along the way, Suárez balanced the weight of expectations with the weight of his country and found the road to success. The reception he received on Sunday is just the latest manifestation of a champion’s just reward. He’ll continue to race for Mexico … and more. "We’re not just talking about Mexico; we’re talking about the entire Latin American community," Suárez said. "That’s something that is unbelievable. I feel very lucky for being a Mexican driver racing in the U.S. and hopefully I can do that for a long time."
Report: Chrysler exec says NASCAR return possible
RELATED: France: New manufacturer in NASCAR a possibility Chrysler is exploring the possibility of making a return to NASCAR, according to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal . The report indicates that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently spoke with NASCAR Vice Chairman Jim France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy about the prospect of Dodge returning to the sport. Dodge left the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 following Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski 's first premier series title. Penske has employed Ford Fusions in its stable since. Should Dodge return to stock car auto racing's top series, it will mark another comeback for the manufacturer after initially being reintroduced in 2001 by Ray Evernham. "I talked to Jim France about this (Saturday) night," Marchionne told the newspaper. "I was the one who made the decision to pull out of NASCAR. I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009, we came out of bankruptcy and tried to race NASCAR (but) with the big bills and make payroll was a stretch. "We are in a different place now. I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa we would come back to the issue." The newspaper also reported that Jim France confirmed he spoke to Marchionne. "Yes, we talked," Jim France said. "He is a very intelligent man. We had a good discussion."
'Good luck, Jimmie:' Sports stars wish Johnson well
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter are two of the six iconic sports stars who have come together to wish Jimmie Johnson good luck in his quest for seven championships. The two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and New York Yankees great were center stage in a Gatorade-produced commercial in honor of Johnson's chance at history in Miami. U.S. women's soccer legend Abby Wambach, Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, tennis star Serena Williams and Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns all encourage Jimmie to "chase down seven." Watch the tribute below. We’re all behind you. Good luck, @JimmieJohnson . #se7en #GatoradeFamily pic.twitter.com/WwljE2hyDJ — Gatorade (@Gatorade) November 18, 2016
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
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Dale Jr. confirms wedding date, gives health update
LAS VEGAS -- Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s offseason plans include a test to confirm the Hendrick Motorsports driver is fit and ready to return to competition. Wedding bells will be a part of the brief break as well. The sport's most popular driver confirmed Friday night that he and fiancée Amy Reimann will be married on New Year's Eve. MORE: Junior wins 2016's Sprint Most Popular Driver Award "It's only a few weeks away," Earnhardt said after accepting his 14th-consecutive National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver award during ceremonies at the Wynn Las Vegas. "Amy spilled the beans tonight that we're getting married on New Year's Eve. I'm really excited and have enjoyed going through the process. I've never been married before and I'm excited to be marrying Amy." Earnhardt, 42, and Reimann became engaged last year during a trip to Germany. He said he is looking forward to being involved in all the planning for the upcoming event. "I told her that when we were starting to plan that I wanted to be at every function and (a part of) every decision; I want to be involved in all the planning because I don't want to get married and then go 'yeah man, picking the flowers or whatever, what was that like? What did I miss?' I don't want to miss anything," he said. "I'm so excited, so thrilled to be a part of it and I look forward to our future." The winner of 26 NASCAR premier series races, including a pair of Daytona 500 titles, Earnhardt was sidelined for the final 18 races of the 2016 season after suffering concussion-like symptoms following crashes in two races this past summer. He has worked diligently with doctors to return to competition, and is expected to be cleared to compete when the 2017 season gets underway in February at Daytona. MORE: Relive all of Junior's wins " Dale Jr. on offseason: We're going testing "I'll be happy to tell you guys what we've got planned when the time is right," he said of an effort to test before returning to competition. "We do have a good plan and NASCAR has been very easy to work with. They made a new rule for situations for drivers like this to allow a driver to get back on the track in a bit of an open test without any data acquisition or anything like that on the car. We'll get out there and spend half a day somewhere running some long runs and getting a good idea of whether I'm ready to go. "I feel 100 percent; I don't think we're going to have any issues. If all that goes as planned, we'll go to the Phoenix test which is a NASCAR test in January and will be plugged back in to work just right where we were when we started last year." Earnhardt is the son of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. In addition to competing for Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR's premier series, he co-owns JR Motorsports, an XFINITY Series organization which will field four full-time teams in that series in 2017. JRM also fielded an entry in the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 for driver Cole Custer . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Kurt Busch: 'All good' with teammate Harvick
Kurt Busch said before Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway that he and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick are on good terms after a confrontation following last week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway . On the cool-down lap after the Hellmann’s 500 a week ago, Busch rubbed doors with Harvick. After they parked, Harvick walked over to Busch, who was still sitting in his race car, leaned inside and had words with his teammates after delivering a jab inside the window. "Well, I thought there was miscommunication on what was supposed to happen on track," Busch told NBCSN prior to the Martinsville race. "We would be much better off not having Denny Hamlin and the 22 (of Joey Logano ) in the Chase, those are two strong cars. But we had a miscommunication breakdown. Just the way Kevin reacted was not very appropriate, but we talked about it and it's all good ." Hamlin narrowly beat Busch to the start/finish line to place third in the race, and advanced to the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Busch finished fourth and Harvick finished seventh in the race. Both Busch and Harvick are among the eight drivers battling for the championship as the Round of 8 begins.
Myers Brothers Awards recognize NASCAR's best, remember Betty Jane France
RELATED: NASCAR, Monster Energy announce entitlement deal LAS VEGAS -- On what turned into a remarkable day on all accords, NASCAR introduced Monster Energy as the new premier series entitlement sponsor, celebrated Jimmie Johnson 's historic seventh championship and honored the late Betty Jane France with the prestigious NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Award for her decades of philanthropic work Thursday afternoon. Approximately 500 people attended the traditional Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at the Wynn Las Vegas resort -- an afternoon later capped off with the big entitlement announcement before the industry's drivers, teams and corporate stalwarts. Fittingly one of NASCAR's ascending stars, Chase Elliott started the day off accepting the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, thanked his parents -- including father NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott -- his team and many people important in his high-accelerating career and life. He also made a point to recognize Jeff Gordon ’s six-year old son Leo for an important high-five just before the season-opening Daytona 500 -- a race Elliott started from the pole position. "That was a neat moment and it put everything in perspective," Elliott said, smiling. "I can say I truthfully feel at home now, and I think that says a lot."