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Post-Race Reactions: Great Clips - Grit Chips 300
Hear from all the top finishers talking about their run in Atlanta.
Vickers fondly remembers time with 'great guy' Palmer
RELATED: Arnold Palmer's day at the track Brian Vickers was in Beijing, China on business when the phone messages started piling up with condolences and the news that his friend, golfing legend Arnold Palmer, 87, had died Sunday. Vickers, a former XFINITY Series champion and a three-time Sprint Cup Series race winner, appeared in multiple television commercials with Palmer to promote a medicine to help with blood clots -- a condition they both suffered from. But it was the time off-camera with Palmer that Vickers said he would remember most fondly. "He was so easy to work with, such a nice guy," Vickers told NASCAR.com late Monday from China. "The thing I enjoyed most was sitting around when we weren't shooting (the commercial) -- at lunch, dinner or on the golf course just listening to some of his stories. "I wish only that I had more time to spend with him. I've gotten to know him over the past five years and he was so nice, just fantastic. He is great to work with. We had a lot of fun throughout the entire campaign and off of it as well. He even helped me fix my grip for golf." Vickers got the chance to interact with Palmer during their playful but educational television commercials for the Janssen Pharmaceuticals drug Xarelto. And he was still amazed at the four-time Masters champion's skill on the golf course even though he was well into his 80s. "When we shot that commercial -- the last one with Janssen just a couple years ago -- he was still smoking every single guy out there in putting," Vickers recalled. "He wasn't out-driving anybody anymore, but on the green he was literally draining putts one after another, 30-foot putts no one else could hit. "It was unbelievable, just amazing to see this guy just dropping putt after putt, 30-footers on oscillating greens. I can tell you, that's the way I want to go out." For Vickers, the opportunity to work with Palmer was a life-impacting turn of events. And he was extremely proud to carry the champion's "Arnie's Army" charitable foundation on his race cars at both Martinsville and Auto Club Speedway earlier this season while filling in for an injured Tony Stewart . "I'm obviously going to miss him, he was a great guy," Vickers said. "It's a sad day, but I look at the end of life as more of a celebration of what you accomplish in life. And he accomplished a lot. "I would say people should celebrate his life. He did a lot for the American people and the American dream throughout his career, he was an inspiration and in that regard he should be celebrated." And he will be.
Heads up: Dover and Las Vegas weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Dover, Delaware, looks like there's a chance for rain. Friday for Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole qualifying there is a 60 percent chance for precipitation. For the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, there is an 50 percent chance for precipitation with a high of 76 degrees. And for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance for precipitation and a high of 76 degrees. For Las Vegas, site of this weekend's Camping World Truck Series events, it will be clear and 70 degrees for the start of Saturday's practices. And on Saturday it will be clear and 90 degrees for the start of the race. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Citizen Soldier 400 is at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series opens practice on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) and qualifies Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Drive Sober 300 is on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET on FS2, followed by the DC Solar 350 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Dover media center at NASCAR.com/presspass. Click here for a full schedule. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME In September of 2015, Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway , a career-best at any track. Harvick beat out eventual 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds for the victory. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Chris Buescher (-30 from 12th place), Tony Stewart (-11), Austin Dillon (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-5) are all on the outside looking in as far as the Chase Grid standings are concerned. Of those drivers, Stewart is the only one who has won at the "Monster Mile" -- three times to be exact. Stewart's most recent win came in 2013. • With 10 wins, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been to Dover's Victory Lane more times than any NASCAR driver. Johnson is looking to punch his ticket to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round and a win at his best track could be in the cards. • Winning the opening XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler continues his momentum to Dover where he has earned three top five and 10 top-10 finishes, two of which came in the last two XFINITY Series races at the 1-mile track. Sadler's experience in 17 starts at Dover could shine through on Saturday compared to the young guns he's competing against for the championship. • Of the Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers, only Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters have wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner John Hunter Nemechek has the best average finish of 4.0 out of the Truck Series Chase drivers. Behind Nemechek is Ben Kennedy with 5.0. Nemechek has run just one Truck Series race at Dover, while Kennedy has experienced two. In 15 starts, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has an average finish of 11.9, but is still seeking a win.
Great Clips extends relationship with Hendrick, No. 5 team
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2016) -- Great Clips Inc. will continue its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 Chevrolet SS team of driver Kasey Kahne in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a contract extension through 2018. The two-year agreement covers the 2017 and 2018 seasons and secures primary sponsorship of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS for 10 events annually. Great Clips, which joined Hendrick Motorsports as a partner in 2012, also will be a major associate sponsor of the No. 5 team each year. The world's largest salon brand, Great Clips became a first-time Sprint Cup primary sponsor with three races in 2013. The program grew to 10 primary races annually in 2014. "We are very pleased to extend our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and with Kasey through the 2018 NASCAR season," said Terri Miller, senior vice president of marketing and communications, Great Clips Inc. "Kasey has been a member of the Great Clips family for over 13 years and is a great ambassador of our brand. He embodies the same qualities and values that are synonymous with Great Clips -- loyalty, family, dedication and a passion to succeed. "We have built a successful partnership with Hendrick Motorsports over the last several years that has allowed us to activate and elevate our brand and partner programs to a new level, and we are excited to be able to continue that into the future." Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne, 36, has earned three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berths and five race wins with the No. 5 team. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 17 career victories, 27 pole positions and 165 top-10 finishes in NASCAR's top division. " Great Clips has a very strong culture," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports . "The company cares deeply about relationships with their customers, franchisees, stylists, corporate staff and partners. We’ve enjoyed working together to build an effective program, and it's been terrific to see the Great Clips business grow over that time. We're committed to their success and look forward to the future." Minneapolis-based Great Clips, which has more than 4,000 locations and 1,200 salon owners who employ 40,000 stylists throughout the United States and Canada, has a long history with Kahne. Since 2003, the company has supported his efforts as both a driver and car owner across multiple racing series. " Great Clips has believed in me throughout my career," Kahne said. "They're a big part of the No. 5 team, and we feel like members of their team, too. It's been an awesome partnership, and I'm grateful for their commitment and support. It means a lot to represent them on and off the track."
Dale Jr. watches dad's Monte Carlo take a lap; more from 'Dega trip
RELATED: See Dale Jr.'s day at Talladega Six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . visited one of his favorite tracks Thursday for an action-packed day of greeting fans, mingling with the Alabama Gang, assisting the track with its landscaping duties and watching his father's No. 2 Chevrolet take a lap around the superspeedway. The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman, sidelined for the rest of the season by concussion-like symptoms, was welcomed by Alabama Gang members Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and short-track legend Red Farmer as an honorary member of the group. The Alabama Gang, with deep roots in stock-car racing's early days, was the nickname earned by a group of notable NASCAR drivers -- the Allisons, Neil Bonnett, and Farmer among them -- with ties to the state. Talladega's back straightaway was named "The Alabama Gang Superstretch" in their honor in the spring of 2014. Although Dale Earnhardt was not a part of the group, he remained great friends with the drivers -- especially Bonnett, a fellow outdoorsman. The group paid tribute to the first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee as Donnie Allison wheeled Earnhardt's famous No. 2 Monte Carlo around the 2.66-mile track. See glimpses from Dale Jr.'s day. We have a VERY special guest with us today surprising some awesome fans! Welcome back to 'Dega, @DaleJr ! pic.twitter.com/ibtEQnnAJ6 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 . @DaleJr doing some track landscaping and surprising fans at @TalladegaSuperS . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/ptrIfuXW8y — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) September 29, 2016 We have some REALLY cool stuff coming up with @DaleJr and the famed #AlabamaGang ! Keep an eye on Periscope & Facebook Live! pic.twitter.com/fT05pKOgrN — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Donnie, Bobby and Red welcome @DaleJr as an OFFICIAL Honorary Member of the #AlabamaGang ! pic.twitter.com/JjCPAt99FJ — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Dale Sr.'s No. 2 Monte Carlo rides again with Donnie Allison at the wheel! #AlabamaGang https://t.co/HeBNAtQWh8 — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) September 29, 2016 Good times today @TalladegaSuperS promoting the race with the Alabama Gang. Tickets are on sale for the race on October 23rd. pic.twitter.com/vm6OZFTslx — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 I remember this old thing. @TalladegaSuperS Hall of Fame. The carpet is teal, I kid you not. Great choice pops. pic.twitter.com/UMn4RAe34L — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 How cool to rename the MRN booth @TalladegaSuperS in honor of Barney Hall! pic.twitter.com/7u24pIDUnM — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 29, 2016 </p>
Thunder in the hills: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Paint peels and memories fade but the echoes of the past still ring off the hillsides here. Twenty years ago today, the checkered flag fell on the final NASCAR premier series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bob Flock won the first race, in 1949 and on dirt. Jeff Gordon won the last, in 1996 and on asphalt. The two races serve as bookends for a track that even after 20 years of silence serves as a reminder of the sport's colorful past. For 48 years and 93 races, NASCAR teams made the trek to the secluded .625-mile track in the Brushy Mountains of northwestern North Carolina. "It's one of the sport's most historic tracks, one that really helped put NASCAR on the map," car owner Richard Childress said. "A lot of people overlook that. But a lot of great things happened there. (Former series sponsor) R.J. Reynolds really supported it; Holly Farms back in the day … all those things were important to building our sport to what it is today." Built by Wilkes County resident Enoch Staley and partners Lawson Curry and Jack and Charlie Combs, North Wilkesboro Speedway was a venue unlike any other -- in part because the front straightaway ran slightly downhill and the backstretch uphill. It opened in 1947, two years before the debut of NASCAR's Strictly Stock Series, and hosted its first NASCAR premier series event in October of '49. The Wilkes 200 featured a 22-car field and was the final race of the inaugural season for NASCAR's new featured series. Flock won the race but it was Red Byron, finishing 16th, who captured the series' first championship. RELATED: Veterans share fond memories of track
Nemechek, Chase drivers get professional fight training from UFC
Knowing that Cole Custer may be targeting some payback at some point in the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase, John Hunter Nemechek enlisted some help Friday from a group of trained professionals -- UFC fighters. Sure, there were other Chase drivers there as they participated in the event promoting the DC Solar 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but you've gotta imagine the No. 8 Chevrolet driver was feverishly taking mental notes in the event a hard-charging Custer knee comes flying his way after a race again a la Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . In @Vegas at the @ufc training facility with @JHNemechek . Nemechek talking with @ForrestGriffin . #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/tu12RSmI32 — NEMCO Motorsports (@NEMCOMotorsport) September 30, 2016 Just finished training at the @ufc training facility in @Vegas with @ForrestGriffin , @UriahHallMMA , @evandunham155 , & @MoTownPhenom . #UFC pic.twitter.com/1dcvlC64m2 — John Hunter Nemechek (@JHNemechek) September 30, 2016 Driver @JHNemechek working out with the @ufc athletes. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/h3M7iUFGjS — NEMCO Motorsports (@NEMCOMotorsport) September 30, 2016 The rest of the Chase field was there, as well, and seemed to have a pretty great time. @DanielHemric & @mattcrafton having Pre-Race fun at UFC HQ in Vegas! pic.twitter.com/Ch0hfVoRu8 — Jason Semerau (@TracksideExp) September 30, 2016 Bit of Sparring fun with @DanielHemric ! pic.twitter.com/cSgVTiQOrZ — Jason Semerau (@TracksideExp) September 30, 2016 How about some @ufc training before tomorrow night's @LVMotorSpeedway race! #TheChase pic.twitter.com/7MmyWQH1H1 — NASCAR Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) September 30, 2016 . @ufc Hall of Famer @ForrestGriffin leads the 8 @NASCAR_Trucks Chase drivers through drills @ The Ultimate Fighter Gym b4 Sat's @DCSolar 350 pic.twitter.com/iTLP8eiK0x — Las Vegas Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) September 30, 2016 . @ufc follows @NASCAR_Trucks on @FS1 Sat night, so the 8 Chase drivers are learning from @DCSolar 350 grand marshal @ForrestGriffin & others pic.twitter.com/sbKO8NW08A — Las Vegas Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) September 30, 2016 The @NASCAR_Trucks Chase drivers get some shots in on @ufc Hall of Famer & @DCSolar 350 grand marshal @ForrestGriffin pic.twitter.com/RL3FURCsFz — Las Vegas Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) September 30, 2016 . @NASCAR_Trucks Chase drivers had an intense work out w/ @ForrestGriffin and @ufc fighters! #DCSolar350 pic.twitter.com/NUOT5pzK3y — Las Vegas Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) September 30, 2016
Sprint Cup qualifying canceled at Dover; Keselowski on pole
RELATED: Complete Dover lineup " See the field " Updated Chase Grid Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Dover International Speedway was canceled because of rain. The lineup was set according to the NASCAR rule book, putting Brad Keselowski on the pole for Sunday's Citizen Solider 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Martin Truex Jr ., in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, will start on the front row alongside the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. "We earned it because, obviously, we've been having a great season, maybe not with what we've done on track today, but with what we've done throughout the course of the year in scoring a lot of points and winning races," Keselowski said. "But it's certainly still something to be very proud of, to be this far into the season and be in the points lead. These are the perks you get when you're in that position. We'll take it, and of course, being up front gives us a very advantageous pit road selection for this race, which I think is very critical." The three-round, group qualifying effort at the 1-mile concrete oval was scheduled to begin at 3:40 p.m. ET, but wet weather delayed that schedule. This marks the third straight Sprint Cup event at Dover that qualifying has been washed out by rain. Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard , Michael Annett , AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon will select pit stalls for Sunday's race last as their respective teams received a fourth written warning from NASCAR. Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 is the final event in the 10-race Chase's opening Round of 16. The results will determine which 12 drivers remain championship-eligible and which four fail to advance in the postseason. Kyle Larson holds the final transfer spot entering the Dover race with a five-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Jamie McMurray and Richard Childress Racing 's Austin Dillon . Larson will start 12th, with McMurray and Dillon directly behind him in 13th and 14th, respectively. The second of two NASCAR XFINITY Series practices was cut short by rain. The practice lasted about nearly half of its scheduled 85 minutes before being put on hold and eventually called due to rain. Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bruce: Don't see drama? You're not looking hard enough
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. DOVER, Del. -- Where's the drama? If you mean the pushing and shoving, the name-calling, the on-track paybacks, then no, the start of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has seemed tame by those standards. If you mean three- and four-wide battles for position from the drop of the green flag right up until the checkered flag, then no, that's not been the case either. (But seriously, how often does that happen?) But drama? It's still there. Maybe not to the scale some folks have come to expect, but it's been there nonetheless. Chase teams continue to battle in an effort to advance to the second round. Those outside the Chase haven't stopped trying to get back into Victory Lane. Both groups face issues every week. Some overcome. Some do not. In a series where every point matters, every lap does, too. Every decision on the track has consequences while the potential for disaster rides along with every trip to pit road. No altercations? No major disputes? That doesn't mean teams are mailing it in. The teams that are struggling continue to try to get better. The teams that run up front on a more regular basis aren't exactly resting on their laurels. Recall how strong the Joe Gibbs Racing teams were during the regular season? Those teams haven't been bad in the Chase by any means, but it certainly has been no cakewalk. And you can bet they are trying to regain any advantage they enjoyed earlier this year. "It's so hard to make everybody happy," Jimmie Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway . That some feel the action hasn't lived up to expectations doesn't sit well with the six-time series champion and driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports . "It actually frustrates me to hear that," he said. Johnson opened this year's Chase with what would on the surface appear to be two very humdrum finishes of 12th at Chicago and eighth last weekend at New Hampshire. Far from it, according to Johnson, who called the opening race of the 10-race playoff "about as exciting as any Chicago (race) I've ever had." For the first time all season, he led more than 100 laps. He was in contention for the win, battling with teammate Chase Elliott in the latter stages of the race. But a mistake on pit road led to a speeding penalty during a late round of green-flag pit stops. And any chance at victory went out the window. Maybe that isn't spellbinding for some, but for Johnson and a host of others, the start of this year's Chase has been intense. Fellow driver Jamie McMurray compared the action in the first two races to "trying to have a good finish in every single race." "You're not going to have that, and that's what makes the exciting finishes so great ," McMurray said, and that's about as spot-on as you're going to get. "I guess it's circumstantial. Normally (for) the restarts at (New Hampshire), somebody always gets tangled up, and the fact that it's one of the first Chase races there is usually some drama there. We just didn't have that this year." Dover, site of Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) is "one of those places where we could have that and we could shake it up a little bit," he said. Two races into this year's Chase and no one's car has gone flying through the air or burst into flames. No driver has rushed up pit road after the race to accost another competitor or used his car to exact a bit of vengeance out on the race track. Maybe that's become the expectation. But while bemoaning the lack of those things, folks are missing some pretty good competition out on the track, too. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Truex uses great final restart to win at Chicagoland
Martin Truex Jr. uses a great final restart to win the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, advancing him to the Round of 12.