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Racing community honors Sam Ard at memorial service
RELATED: Sam Ard dies at 78 FLORENCE, S.C. -- Gold chandeliers and dark wood may have suggested a more somber mood, but subdued wasn't an apt description of the crowd filling in to pay their final respects to Samuel Julian Ard on Tuesday evening. Spirited perhaps. But respectful, too. It was an unusually warm evening, with the sun casting long shadows across the parking lot of the Stoudenmire-Dowling Funeral Home. Outside, folks milled about, some smoking and talking and others simply talking. Traffic moved along out on the highway, sporadic but at a respectful pace as the day was coming to an end. Inside, they lined up to express their sorrow and offer comfort to the family -- widow Agnes Josephine "Jo" Ard, a tiny woman with a big heart; the children Melinda, Joane, Robert and Sharon; and the grandchildren and great grandchildren that make up a big, close-knit family. "Mama wanted me in dresses and Daddy wanted a wrench in my hand,” Melinda, the eldest of the children, recalled. They came here to remember and say farewell to Sam Ard, one of the best racers to ever suit up and slip behind the wheel in what is now NASCAR's XFINITY Series. Ard, who was 78 and a Pamplico, South Carolina , resident for most of his life, passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. An Air Force veteran, he served his country during the Vietnam War. In the early 1980s, Ard was one of a handful of tough and talented local racers who helped breathe life into NASCAR just one rung beneath its top series. While it shared billing with what's now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at places such as Daytona, Darlington, Bristol and Charlotte, the series didn't stray too far, too often, from its grassroots beginnings. Hickory and South Boston, Rougemont and Asheville were regular stops in those early years, and drivers such as Ard and Jack Ingram and Larry Pearson and Tommy Houston were among its stars. The familiar No. 00 Oldsmobile, white with red lettering and sponsored by Thomas Brothers Country Ham, was a frequent sight up front. Ard won 22 races in just 92 career starts and he finished 10th or better 79 times. He was the series' first two-time champion (1983-84) and finished second in the standings in 1982. He had eight wins, and the title in hand, when he was injured in a crash early in the '84 Komfort Koach 200 at North Carolina Motor Speedway. He missed the final race of season, but still outpointed Ingram for the title. He made no starts the following year and in June of '85 officially announced his retirement from NASCAR competition. "Between him and Jack Ingram, you didn't win a Sportsman race," Dale Earnhardt Jr. recalled Tuesday. "They won everywhere. "It was incredible to me that they could come out of Asheville or wherever they raced and go to Charlotte, a big mile-and-a-half track, and outrun Robert Gee's cars, or those Cup cars that all those Cup drivers were competing in. You would think they would get dusted. But Sam could show up and run better than even the Cup guys with Cup-influenced race teams. "It was incredible the speed that they had, and they had it everywhere, Sam and Jack could compete with anyone on any race track in the Sportsman series back then." His season win mark of 10, set in 1983, stood for 27 years before Kyle Busch won 13 times in 2010. But Ard's record of four consecutive wins, also set in '83, remains the standard for the series. Ard won at South Boston, Martinsville, Rougemont and Charlotte to establish the consecutive win record. "The Charlotte race was always a big deal to me because it happened around my birthday," said Earnhardt, who was born Oct. 10, 1974. "I think it was '82 or '83, Sam whipped Daddy in the 300. I was so upset because I wanted Dad to win (for) my birthday. I remember watching in the infield with all our family, all the Earnhardts and Eurys. We ran second I think, second or third, but that 00 smoked 'em. "Unfortunately, it was just after that where he got injured. I raced with his son (Robert) at Myrtle Beach quite a bit and Sam would come around with him. We became friends and I got to see Sam a little bit then." He was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame, located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway, in 1999 along with 1992 Monster Energy Cup Series champ Alan Kulwicki. And on Wednesday, Sam Ard was laid to rest, wearing his Hall of Fame blazer, at Mt. Zion Baptist Church cemetery.
No. 22 car fails post-race inspection at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The No. 22 Team Penske Ford of driver Ryan Blaney failed post-race technical inspection following Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The car measured too low in the left front, according to a NASCAR spokesperson. Any penalties arising from the failure will likely be determined and announced Tuesday. Blaney led four times for 61 laps. As a full-time competitor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Blaney is not awarded points for his results in the XFINITY Series, however the No. 22 team is competing for the owner's title. MORE: Saturday's race results The race winning entry of Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing) passed post-race at-track inspection, as did the entries of Daniel Hemric (Richard Childress Racing) and Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports). The Hemric and Allgaier entries finished highest among those competing for the XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash bonus and will be taken back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina for further evaluation.
New date set for Team Penske's final appeal
RELATED: No. 2 team penalized after Phoenix infraction The date for Team Penske's final appeal of L1-level penalties issued last month has been pushed back one day due to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race postponement at Bristol. NASCAR officials said the hearing is now scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 26 at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina . It previously had been scheduled for Tuesday. Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, will preside over the hearing. The session will determine the final outcome of penalties issued March 22 to the Roger Penske-owned No. 2 Ford team after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway. Team Penske filed the paperwork for a final appeal April 13, one day after the three-member National Motorsports Appeal Panel upheld the original penalties. That punishment included a three-race suspension for crew chief Paul Wolfe and a 35-point deduction for Brad Keselowski in the drivers' standings and the same amount for Penske in the owners' standings. With the appeal pending, a Team Penske official indicated that Wolfe is scheduled to be atop the pit box for Monday's Food City 500 at Bristol. Wolfe already has served one race of his three-race suspension, handing over the helm to Brian Wilson for the March 26 race at Auto Club Speedway. Moss, the former president at Gulfstream Aerospace, has held the role of National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer since 2014. His ruling on April 26 will be final. The burden of proof will rest with Team Penske in the final appeal process. In the initial hearing, the burden of proof rested with NASCAR. &amp;amp;amp;amp;<span _rtetemp="spchk" style="background-color: #ffffaa;" _rtespchksugg="Lt"alt"ult"flt"let"lit"lat"lot"ltd"t">am</span>p;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Standings
MORE: Monster Energy Series owner standings " Camping World owner standings Pos. Owner Car No. Points Ldr Nxt Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Attempts 1 Roger Penske 22 330 0 0 0 3 3 7 2 Joe Gibbs 20 277 -53 -53 2 2 12 7 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1 260 -70 -17 0 2 2 7 4 Chip Ganassi 42 252 -78 -8 1 1 6 7 5 Rick Hendrick 9 244 -86 -8 0 1 1 7 6 J D Gibbs 18 231 -99 -13 1 3 3 7 7 Richard Childress 2 205 -125 -26 0 0 0 7 8 Richard Childress 3 201 -129 -4 0 0 0 7 9 Kelley Earnhardt-Miller 7 200 -130 -1 1 0 5 7 10 Jack Roush 16 184 -146 -16 1 0 5 7 11 Richard Childress 21 180 -150 -4 0 1 1 7 12 Jack Roush 6 180 -150 0 0 0 0 7 13 Matt Kaulig 11 164 -166 -16 0 0 0 7 14 Chip Ganassi 48 163 -167 -1 0 0 0 7 15 Joe Gibbs 19 160 -170 -3 0 0 0 7 16 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5 157 -173 -3 0 0 0 7 17 James Whitener 28 139 -191 -18 0 0 0 7 18 Gene Haas 00 130 - 200 -9 0 0 0 7 19 Richard Childress 33 128 -202 -2 0 0 0 7 20 Maria Gonzalez Hernandez 24 125 -205 -3 0 0 0 7 21 Mark Smith 14 111 -219 -14 0 0 0 7 22 Richard Childress 62 108 -222 -3 0 0 0 7 23 Rod Sieg 39 108 -222 0 0 0 0 7 24 Maurice Gallagher Jr. 23 103 -227 -5 0 0 0 7 25 Michelle Gosselin 90 88 -242 -15 0 0 0 7 26 Tony Stewart 41 86 -244 -2 0 1 1 2 27 Johnny Davis 01 86 -244 0 0 0 0 7 28 Tony Clements 51 83 -247 -3 0 0 0 7 29 Gary Cogswell 0 81 -249 -2 0 0 0 7 30 Gary Keller 4 81 -249 0 0 0 0 7 31 Fred Biagi 98 76 -254 -5 0 0 0 5 32 Jimmy Means 52 74 -256 -2 0 0 0 7 33 Roger Penske 12 64 -266 -10 1 0 0 2 34 Bobby Dotter 07 64 -266 0 0 0 0 7 35 Danielle Long 40 63 -267 -1 0 0 0 7 36 Rick Hendrick 88 49 -281 -14 0 0 0 1 37 Bj McLeod 78 48 -282 -1 0 0 0 7 38 Jessica Smith-Mcleod 99 47 -283 -1 0 0 0 7 39 Jessica Smith-Mcleod 8 41 -289 -6 0 0 0 7 40 Rick Gdovic 46 37 -293 -4 0 0 0 2 41 Danielle Long 13 20 -310 -17 0 0 0 7 42 Mike Harmon 74 16 -314 -4 0 0 0 7 43 Lynn Cockrum 25 12 -318 -4 0 0 0 2 44 Mark Smith 44 10 -320 -2 0 0 0 1 45 Pamela Sieg 93 6 -324 -4 0 0 0 6 46 Victor Obaika 97 4 -326 -2 0 0 0 6 47 Cindy Shepherd 89 2 -328 -2 0 0 0 5 48 Victor Obaika 177 0 -330 -2 0 0 0 1
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
James Buescher and Johnny Sauter comment on their strong runs at the Rock, while Nelson Piquet reflects on his pit road mistake.
Tire tweaks? Indianapolis test on tap this week
Four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for a two-day Goodyear tire test at the legendary 2.5-mile facility. Drivers scheduled to take part in the test, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, are Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), David Ragan (No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet). The Brickyard 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is scheduled for July 23 . "It seems like the last couple of years (Indy) has fairly well stabilized after the grinding that they did," Goodyear's Greg Stucker told NASCAR.com. "Kind of knocked the edges off the grooves in the surface. But the last couple of years we've felt like we were getting to the point that we could look at adding a little bit of grip. Particularly with the move from '16 to '17 with a little less downforce." NASCAR' s 2017 rules package created less overall downforce (from 2,100 to 1,600 pounds) on the cars through changes to the rear spoiler, front splitter and deck fin. Modifications to rear steer settings and a new tire rule (teams must start the race using the tires on which they qualified) were also made. While significant, the changes were an evolution of the initial package that debuted in '15 at select events when the sanctioning body began the move to take downforce away from the cars. Those changes were implemented for all races (excluding superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega) in '16. Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales, said an XFINITY Series test last October at Indy opened the door for a possible tire change in the Monster Energy Series. "When we tested with the XFINITY cars last year in preparation for their new configuration, we actually were running a little bit softer left side. It's the left side (tire) that we run at Pocono," he said. "So that gave us an indication, 'Hey, this might be something that we can standardize between Pocono and Indy, give the Cup cars a little more grip.' So that's one of the main goals, to look at that and see if that's a good move for Indianapolis this year and add a little bit more left-side grip." Stucker said the continued evolution of the rules package has not "significantly" impacted tire selection. The big bump, he said, came between '15 and '16 as the initial lower-downforce package was rolled out. "Because that was the plan," he said. "The big step from '15 to '16 (was) 'let's figure out where we land with tires and if we feel like we're in a good spot, even though we’re taking more downforce off as we go to '17, let's leave tires alone.'" But as the cars have evolved and tracks age and undergo repaves, Goodyear continues to monitor the situation and addresses the changing needs. "There are a couple of areas we wanted to work on," he said. "Kansas at the end of last year, obviously we're going to come with a little bit softer left side (tire), because we felt we were in that position even with the '16 package as we went to '17 and less downforce, that was a good move. Obviously Martinsville (was) a different focus, to rubber in the race track. Texas with the repave; Kentucky with a new top coat on now. Las Vegas, trying to generate a little more wear on a surface that generally doesn't create wear. "We had a few things to work on but it wasn't a significant move in grip like I would call the '15 to '16 move. Overall things are pretty stable and we're kind of fine-tuning specific race tracks that we feel like we can help a little bit." There currently are no plans to test at Texas, which was repaved and reconfigured prior to this month's race. Due to time constraints, there was no tire test at the 1.5-mile track. Stucker said officials were pleased with the Texas tire selection, which was the same left-side tire code used by teams at Kentucky in 2016 (Kentucky underwent a similar repave and Goodyear did conduct tire tests prior to that race). The right-side Texas tire featured the same tread compound as Kentucky but with a minor construction change. "You have to be cautious," he said. "With the (Texas) repave, we raced on it right after it was done. It's not going to change significantly as we get into the fall. I think the race track was very happy. … We certainly are. "Again, hat's off to the race track and to SMI for doing everything they could to put some rubber down with the Tire Dragon and trying to work the groove in. I think that was huge. And I think that was complimented with a pretty racy package from what we had."
Buescher helps campers escape soggy grounds
Chris Buescher is a man of the people. Not only did the JTG Daugherty Racing driver offer up a couple of cookie cakes to his teammates for forcing them to bring out the backup car for the first time in his career, the genial Buescher took it upon himself to help out some rain-soaked fans stuck on the soggy campgrounds at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday night. With Sunday's Food City 500 being postponed to Monday (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), a weekend of inclement weather put some fans in a soggy position. Buses and RVs were getting stuck in the campground mud, so leave it to the native Texan -- who likely has dealt with a flood or two in his day -- to lend a helping hand. Filling the back of the truck up helping campers get to higher ground @bmsupdates Hoping this… https://t.co/emh0a1btKL — Chris Buescher (@Chris_Buescher) April 24, 2017 But they got stuck. In desperate need of a #bubbarope all of a sudden. https://t.co/0dkK5G9jvc — Chris Buescher (@Chris_Buescher) April 24, 2017 Does anyone know whose bus this is?! I fear it will be lost soon. @ Bristol Motor Speedway https://t.co/cnGclns8jp — Chris Buescher (@Chris_Buescher) April 24, 2017 That Chris Buescher, he's all right. Perhaps @nascarcasm summed up the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver's good deed best. Good man, this @chris_buescher . He's at his best in adverse weather conditions. https://t.co/W3SfA7vq3r — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) April 24, 2017
Larson, Johnson, Busch talk Bristol's updated racing groove
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol MORE: Weekend schedule " Starting lineup " Bristol photos BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's not that Kyle Larson isn't a fan of the sticky substance put down on the racing surface at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader understands the reasoning behind the application of an adhesive product to the lower portion of the track. But the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing said he believes the amount placed on the concrete could create a situation that lends itself to keeping drivers racing single-file around the steeply-banked .533-mile track for Monday's Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Track officials applied the adhesive in the lower sections of the turns in an attempt to create an additional racing groove and promote passing on the often treacherous track. One of a handful of Monster Energy Cup drivers who also competed in Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 XFINITY Series race, Larson said he "tried to work the top in" during Friday’s XFINITY Series practice at BMS. "I feel like it would still be really fast up there, it's just nobody is brave enough to go up there and work in the groove," said Larson, who won the pole for Saturday's XFINITY Series race. "The VHT (substance) is wider than the width of our race cars now too, which makes it extremely easy to run around the bottom and not a lot of fun. "I don't know, maybe some guys like it, but I think, yeah it looks like old Bristol because we are all running around the bottom, but I just don't see how that is fun." For years, Bristol was known as a one-groove track where drivers were forced to bump their way past competitors as they tried to advance through the field. That often led to ill tempers and altercations but tremendous fan turnout as well. The facility boasted a string of 55-consecutive sellouts between 1982 and 2010 during a time that seating capacity grew from approximately 30,000 to nearly 160,000. Officials added progressive banking in 2007 in an effort to move away from the single-file racing for which the facility, which opened in 1961, had become known. But the change created a reverse situation -- the upper groove became the preferred line around the track, and after several races that featured few lead changes and contact, officials went back to the drawing boards In 2012, the track was altered once again when officials milled the upper groove in an effort to create more side-by-side competition. The results have been mixed, and the application of the adhesive is the latest move. Officials first applied the product prior to last year's night race at BMS. "I think it was like three or four feet wide," Larson, one of six race winners through this season's first seven races, said of the initial application. "I thought that was a good width because you could get your left sides in it and you really had to be cautious of hitting your marks every corner. "Now it's like you just fire off from the corner and it doesn't really matter where you enter as long as your right sides are in the grip you are going to rip around the corner. (It) just makes it too easy for us and I don't think that is good for racing." Kyle Busch, a winner of five Monster Energy NASCAR races and 17 overall at BMS, said the early indication Friday was that "there's a lot of bottom going on and not a whole lot of middle or top." "I'm sure Larson's thrilled and he'll have to rubber in the top himself while the rest of us are rooting and gouging for the bottom," he said. Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson commended Bristol officials for the effort, noting that it was something that had worked in the past. "And in the Driver's Council meeting after our fall race here, we were all eager to make sure it was back down," Johnson said, "and (we) thought that it did offer more options (for passing) than without it." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Truex on pit road penalty: 'We were going for it'
RELATED: Johnson jumps at Bristol victory " Race results No one at Bristol could run the bottom of the track better than Martin Truex Jr., who led 116 laps in Monday's rain-delayed Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Truex lost some of his advantage when the potency of the VHT track sealer, which added grip to the bottom lane, began to fade as the race progressed. But the real whammy for Truex was a penalty for speeding on pit road incurred under the final caution on Lap 465. Truex had been battling race winner Jimmie Johnson for the lead before the infraction, but the No. 78 Toyota lost any chance for the victory after being sent to the back of the field for a restart on Lap 468. "We were going for it, you know?" Truex said. "Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won. This is the best run we've had here in a long time. It's bittersweet. I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Johnson). We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is, and you try to get what you can get, and sometimes you cross the line, and today we crossed the line. "All in all, it was an awesome day and a lot of fun. Had the VHT not worn out quite as bad, then we would have really killed them. The top lane came in, and some guys could run that better than I could, but overall it was a good day and a lot of fun all day." &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;gt;
Excuses index: How to bail on work to watch the race
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove Today's race at Bristol (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) happens to fall during a workday. No worries. We've got you covered with a full index of ways to get out of your shift today, courtesy of @nascarcasm and Steve Luvender. Here's how @nascarcasm suggests getting out of work: 1. Tell your supervisor you'll be taking all five of your lunch breaks for the week back-to-back at 1 p.m. ET. 2. Ask Landon Cassill how many retweets it will take for Landon to personally call your boss and inform him or her that you'll be leaving around noon. 3. Claim you have jury duty. If your boss asks "What case?" do not yell "Ol' Junebug vs. the World's Fastest Half Mile! Wooooo!" While tempting, that's a dead giveaway. 4. Just find an empty bathroom stall and hang out in there and follow the race on social media. This common practice is known as "shwittering." 5. Tell your boss you have someone who will fill in for you while you're watching the race. When your replacement shows up, explain to your boss that Alex Bowman is very skilled at Microsoft Excel. 6. Use the Jeff Gordon method. Say you've decided it's time to retire, then just show up back to work the next day like it never happened. And if you're looking for excuses that technically aren't untrue, Steve Luvender has your back. • "I'm sick." Sick of not being able to watch the race while I'm working, that is. • "There's been a family hardship." Your family had to deal with you instead of watching the race yesterday afternoon. That might have been hard for them if they're used to a few hours of peace and quiet. • "I have an appointment." An appointment with the TV at approximately 1 p.m. ET, that is. (But don't tell your boss that part.) • "I'm having car problems." The problem is that you couldn't watch race cars zoom around Bristol's high banks. • "I'm expecting a delivery to my house." While your boss might expect a major appliance being delivered to your house within a five-hour window, maybe you're actually having a pizza or two delivered to your house around the end of Stage 1 or so. Technically not lying. • "I've been arrested." Sometimes you have to get really creative. It's not a good idea to pull out the "I've been arrested" card frequently, lest you arouse suspicion of your co-workers, but it's not lying if you've been arrested by the allure of NASCAR.