A personal mission becomes a cause for Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Finalist
In 2011, Andy Hoffman's young son Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And so, in America's Heartland, the battle began for the life of one child. Soon, the situation led Hoffman's family to take on another battle of national scope, for the lives of many children. One year after the devastating diagnosis, Hoffman had T-shirts made to sell as a fundraiser for children's brain cancer research. Approximately 20,000 shirts were sold, more than $300,000 was raised. Inspiration morphed into dedication and a year later Hoffman and his wife, Brianna, formed "Team Jack Foundation" based in Atkinson, Nebraska. In the process, they confronted the fact that procedures to treat pediatric brain cancer – both in surgery and chemotherapy – were more than 30 years old. A further catalyst was the obvious need for funding, for further childhood cancer research. Team Jack Foundation raises money to fund impactful pediatric brain cancer research while working to create national awareness for the disease. The long-term goal of the non-profit organization is to fund research at the top research centers in the United States and internationally with a special emphasis on the state of Nebraska and the surrounding region, where research centers are limited. "Our goal is to raise as much money as we can, as fast as we can and get that money into the hands of the best researchers in the world to help find a cure for pediatric brain cancer," Hoffman said. It's happening. In 2013, Hoffman appealed to the Nebraska State Legislature for funding at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, resulting in the state matching Team Jack Foundation's commitment of $1.5 million. The foundation has raised nearly $3 million, with the funding going to five research programs across the country. In addition, Hoffman has run three marathons through which he personally raised more than $10,000. Hoffman, 37 – and a longtime Jeff Gordon fan – is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide . The award will be presented by France, The NASCAR Foundation's Chairwoman Emeritus and founder, on Sept. 27 during the inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists' charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. ET at NASCAR.com/Award Andy Hoffman and his son, Jack, at a chemotherapy session. Each year, approximately 4,300 children are diagnosed with life-threatening brain cancer. Young Jack Hoffman's battle continues, but for many other children, the battle is lost. "As a parent, when your child receives that first cancer diagnosis, it's a process," Hoffman said. "It's devastating. It's paralyzing. Then you go from being paralyzed to almost having a pity party, and you're praying, asking God, 'Why?' But then, the next step is, 'How are we going to beat this thing?' "I can't ask for a better group to advocate for, than these kids going through something like this. … There's so much more work that needs to be done. We've only scratched the surface. "For whatever reason, God chose us [to face this challenge] so we felt like it was our job, our obligation to other families … to use all of the blessings in our life, to do the most amount of good as possible." To learn more about this year's finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide , and to cast your vote today, go to www.NASCAR.com/Award . Voting is open now until Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. ET.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. injury timeline
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway and Darlington Raceway as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. Dale Jr. had previously missed races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Indianapolis Motor Speedway , Pocono Raceway , Watkins Glen International and Bristol Motor Speedway . Alex Bowman (New Hampshire and Michigan) and four-time champion Jeff Gordon (Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Bristol and Darlington) are filling in for him in the No. 88 Chevrolet. Stay up-to-date on Dale Jr.'s injury and recovery through the timeline of events below.
Award finalist Parker White considers charitable work her calling
RELATED: All the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists Call it an epiphany which previously was an epiphany-in-waiting. Parker White already had a deep-rooted awareness of the challenges many families face in providing basic necessities for their children. When she became a mother herself, that awareness shot to a new level. And that led to action, and the 2010 establishment by White of Greensboro, North Carolina-based "BackPack Beginnings," an organization that strives to provide nutritious food, clothing, and other essentials to children in need, in the Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina area. "When I was living a number of years ago in Washington, D.C. I had seen a news report at some point about back-pack programs and it definitely had an impact on me, as I had no idea there was such a need," White, 37, said. "I remember thinking what a neat way that seemed to be, to help children. "It didn't go much further than that -- until I had my daughter, my first-born. It all changed for me after that when I saw how reliant and dependent she was on me for everything. From there, I couldn't shake the feeling of what parents who didn't have the resources and couldn't provide for their children were doing. "We moved to Greensboro when my daughter was about nine months old and over the course of the next six to nine months … I just could not shake the thoughts. I have a strong faith and I really felt God was calling me to do something." White, who is from Greensboro, is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide . The award will be presented by France -- The NASCAR Foundation's Chairwoman Emeritus and founder -- on Sept. 27 during the inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists' charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. ET at www.NASCAR.com/Award . In only six-and-a-half years, after initially identifying a need in the Greensboro/High Point region, White has led an impressive expansion of BackPack Beginnings' services, which are centered on working with local schools to open food and clothing pantries, donate backpacks filled with blankets and school supplies, and provide comfort and hygiene items. During this period, BackPack Beginnings' presence has grown from one school to 26, with more than 2,500 children being fed each week through the food pantries. During the organization's first six years more than 650,000 pounds of food, 5,000 backpacks and 20,000 clothing articles have been distributed. BackPack Beginnings' goal is to help children thrive in their school environment, where hardships can be magnified. A child who is undernourished or without adequate school supplies likely will also face social stigmas among their peers. BackPack Beginnings operates as a volunteer organization, allowing the vast majority of donations to go straight to the children in need. White in an appropriate finalist for a NASCAR award. Her brother-in-law is a former jack man in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And Greensboro, of course, annually is one of the hottest markets for NASCAR in the country. "I never imagined we would be where we are now," White said. "It just took our community rallying around this idea. I had no foresight that this was going to happen like this. It's just such a blessing for the community and for my life. "We definitely want the kids to feed them, have them ready to learn," White said. "We want to give them clothes, give them confidence. We want to give these kids a better chance to succeed in life by doing well in school."
Jim Giaccone honors brother, other 9/11 victims by aiding others
RELATED: All the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 took so much from Jim Giaccone. But it led him to this: honoring the memory of the brother he lost by helping others affected by that dark day. Giaccone's older brother, Joseph, died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Joseph was among the 658 employees of the Cantor Fitzgerald financial services firm who were killed. Devastated by grief, Giaccone somehow found the drive to carry on and honor his brother by giving back to others -- especially children -- who likewise were carrying on in the aftermath of 9/11. During his personal aftermath, Giaccone found his future in the form of Tuesday's Children, an organization dedicated to providing long-term support to those directly impacted by the events of 9/11 and other communities impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss. Giaccone's involvement in Tuesday's Children is multi-faceted, as a fundraiser, through service on the organization's Mentoring Advisory Board and Family Advisory Board and through what is arguably his most significant contribution: serving as a mentor. His works have not gone unnoticed. Giaccone, from Bayville, New York, is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide . The award will be presented by France -- The NASCAR Foundation's Chairwoman Emeritus and founder -- on Sept. 27 during the inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists' charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. (ET) at NASCAR.com/Award . Giaccone, 55, mentors teenage brothers Nicholas and Matthew Reda, who lost their father on 9/11. Suffice to say this is a reciprocal relationship. Giaccone and the boys find healing and comfort in one another. But their time spent together involves more than words. The healing is helped by sharing real-life tasks involving practical skills, such as building rockets and fishing, both activities the boys enjoyed with their father. Said Giaccone: "I am not a man of great wealth where I can personally make a difference financially. My most valuable asset is my time. "It's a delicate balance when I try to explain what I get out of this. But obviously, anything that I've gained over the last 15 years I would trade in a second for my brother's life. But … that's not reality. Through the programs that Tuesday's Children is running and seeing the works that they do … it's almost become a therapy for me, to be honest. When I leave Nicholas and Matthew, it's almost as if I have a 'runner's high.' I feel calmer. If those boys get half of what I get out of this, it's a win-win." More than 10 years and hundreds of hours of service to Tuesday's Children have given Giaccone many rewarding experiences. He wants more, because there is so much more work to do. He has expanded his volunteer efforts to include helping others both domestically and abroad, truly living his life to reflect the organization's motto to "Let Our Past Change the Future." Giaccone is a longtime NASCAR fan, dating to his childhood when enjoying racing was a family tradition. One of his most cherished memories of NASCAR -- and of his life, overall -- is from August 2001 when he and his brother went to Nazareth (Pennsylvania) Speedway to take part in a fan driving experience. "I had gone to Las Vegas and done the Richard Petty Driving Experience twice, so I organized the trip (to Nazareth)." Giaccone said. "It was pretty special ..." As is being a Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalist, and representing Tuesday's Children -- in New York City on Sept. 27. "It's very humbling to be considered," Giaccone said. To learn more about this year’s finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide , and to cast your vote today, go to www.NASCAR.com/Award . Voting is open now until September 26 at 5 p.m. ET.
XFINITY Series drivers share thoughts, memories of Bryan Clauson
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- The NASCAR world continues to mourn the loss of Bryan Clauson, a sprint car driver who died Sunday at the age of 27. Clauson crashed Saturday night during a U.S. Auto Club (USAC) midget car race at the Belleville High Banks, a half-mile dirt track in Belleville, Kansas, and was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was pronounced dead late Sunday. Clauson was an accomplished sprint-car driver, who also made 26 starts in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, will be remembered by teams this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a special decal . The Indiana native had several friends and acquaintances in the NASCAR garage including Justin Marks , who is a part-time driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series. "It's incredibly sad," Marks told NASCAR.com. "I met Bryan in 2007 when he was at Chip Ganassi Racing in Nationwide (now XFINITY .) He came through ARCA when I was in ARCA in '06 and '07, so I've known him for a long time. And really just in the last two years, got to know him better just because I got involved in the sport, World of Outlaws and he was around that." Marks co-owns a sprint-car organization, Larson Marks Racing, with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson . After Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , Marks is heading out to the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa. Clauson would have competed in the sprint-car event this weekend. "Bryan's a racer, Lauren (his fiancée) is a racer and Tim's (his father) a racer," Marks said. "They're just a racing family. It's all they've ever known." Sam Hornish Jr . (driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at Mid-Ohio) said the loss is one you never want to hear about. "Racing is such a tight knit community of people," Hornish said. "There's always people that are there even though we are competing against each other, they want to see good things happen to other people if they can. So whenever there is a loss like that, you take it hard regardless of how well you were friends, not friends. Everybody's definitely been thinking about it for quite a bit this week." Ty Dillon (driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), who has dabbled in some racing outside of NASCAR, called Clauson "a highly admired person" who is "going to be missed." "Everybody's got heavy hearts for the Clauson family," Dillon said. "… It's just sad. You feel for his family and you pray for them to be able to get through." Clauson had set a preseason goal of competing in 200 open-wheel races this year. That schedule included a start in the 100th Indianapolis 500, where he placed 23rd in his third effort at the famed Brickyard. According to Indianapolis Motor Speedway , Clauson had accumulated 27 wins in 116 races this season. "Bryan Clauson is the only guy in history to lead the Indy 500 (led three laps in the 2016 race) and win a 4/10 sprint car feature in the same day," Marks said. "That's a racer. They don't make them like that very much anymore."
Nationwide reveals its 2016 races for Earnhardt Jr.
RELATED: Earnhardt's 2016 Nationwide paint scheme revealed Nationwide Insurance, previously announced as the 2016 primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., revealed Friday which races it would ride along with the No. 88 Chevrolet in 2016. Time to mark your ! Here is where you will see the No. 88 @ Nationwide car in the 2016 @NASCAR season. #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/4ZboLmMG3K — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) January 29, 2016 Earnhardt Jr. will debut the 2016 No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening Daytona 500 . Nationwide will also adorn the car at the July Daytona race, as well as at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Auto Club, Martinsville, Texas, Bristol, Talladega, Dover, Charlotte, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pocono, Darlington, Kansas and Phoenix for a total of 21 races. The organization will serve as an associate sponsor for the remainder of the schedule. Nationwide teamed up with Earnhardt and Hendrick Motorsports in 2014 and is signed to a three-year partnership with the organization. Earnhardt ran the Nationwide paint scheme for 24 races in 2015, making three trips to Victory Lane in the scheme at Talladega, Daytona and Phoenix.
Dale Jr.'s 2016 Nationwide paint scheme revealed
In a special video featuring select Dale Earnhardt Jr . fans, the Hendrick Motorsports driver revealed the No. 88 Nationwide paint scheme for races in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Watch the video below to see how fans helped unveil the new look. Nationwide will be a primary sponsor for 21 races on the No. 88 in 2016. Watch this video to see @DaleJr 's 2016 No. 88 @ Nationwide paint scheme get revealed by 10 unsuspecting fans. #NW88JR https://t.co/QQAUq6nvXV — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) October 13, 2015 Here is a look at what the primary scheme looked like in 2015.
Brad Keselowski wins Nationwide race at Phoenix
Late caution allows veteran to pass Kyle Busch for victory RELATED: Race results " Series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. - Brad Keselowski took advantage of a late-race caution to edge Kyle Busch for a Nationwide Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway , but Chase Elliott was the day's big winner at Saturday's DAV 200 - Honoring America's Veterans . Elliott, the 18-year-old son of 1988 Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott , finished fifth to clinch the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, becoming the first rookie to accomplish the feat. The Elliott family joined the Pettys, Pearsons, Jarretts and Earnhardts in becoming families with father-son national touring series champions. Elliott, who won races at Texas, Darlington and Chicagoland this season, did what he needed to, finishing ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith , who entered the race 48 points behind Elliott in the series standings and ran 10th. Elliott said he wasn't sure how to celebrate his series triumph. "I wasn't sure if it was OK to do a burnout lap or not," he said. "But I did one anyway because I was too excited not to. "I never would have even believed this was in my future. At the beginning of this season I had only run a couple of truck races. I feel lot of this is just due to the group of guys I was able to work with. Those guys were bringing me super-fast cars every week." Elliott's NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet did what Busch's Toyota could not do -- survive a green-white-checkered finish after Alex Bowman was slow on the track, bringing out a race-changing caution flag with slightly more than a lap to go. To that point, Busch had been dominant, seemingly on his way to his eighth win in 25 starts this season by leading 187 of the race's 206 laps. But Keselowski had other ideas, swooping to the inside and driving past Busch in Turn 1 of the final lap to prevent Busch from winning his fourth consecutive Nationwide start at Phoenix. "We didn't give up," Keselowski said. "Kyle was really fast – probably a 10th (of a second) or two faster than everybody. Then, that yellow came out and I really don't know what happened. I think we grabbed a gear and he slipped. "It was a little bit surreal. I really didn't even know the race was over. We were low on gas in that whole (end-of-race) situation." Busch was similarly at a loss for words. "The Monster Energy Camry was faster than everyone else – just not at the right time," said Busch, who said he knew he was in trouble when Keselowski's car "cut better than mine in Turns 3 and 4. "I tried to let him go into (Turn) 1 and cut back underneath, but my (car) wouldn't turn," Busch said. "(Right there) his stuff doesn't turn but it still turned better than ours 'cuz he still got me." Neither Keselowski nor Busch are eligible for the series title because they are full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers. For much of the race, Smith appeared primed to put his teammate's title hopes on hold. But Smith struggled after leaving the pits with 29 laps to go after taking left side tires on a yellow-flag pit stop. Elliott leaped from ninth to sixth in the running order and held serve the rest of the way. Busch took fresh tires during that same caution and restarted fifth. The strategy seemed to pay off as he easily got around Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Bowman, each of whom elected to forego the pits on that final stop. But Keselowski made it happen in the final two laps of his Nationwide Series campaign. "We have a great team," said Keselowski, who did not finish worse than fourth in any of his 10 Nationwide starts this season. "I'm proud to be a part of it. It's been a phenomenal year and I'm going to remember this one for a long time." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nationwide Series pit stall assignments
See where drivers will pit for the Ford EcoBoost 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today The NASCAR Nationwide Series pit stall assignments are out for Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Coors Light Pole Award winner Brad Keselowski chose the first pit stall off pit road with an empty space in front of him for an easy departure. Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney , Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan also have open stalls in front of them. Chase Elliott, who clinched the 2014 series title last week, chose the first pit stall onto pit road for an easy entrance. The Nationwide Series will take the track at 4:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage on ESPN2. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Nationwide to sponsor No. 88 at Richmond
Primary sponsor for 2015 getting a jump on relationship RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Nationwide Insurance will serve as a primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2015. The company is getting a head start on its new role with Hendrick Motorsports next week in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway , where it will adorn Junior's No. 88 Chevrolet. The race weekend will allow Nationwide to preview the future paint scheme, and Hendrick Motorsports said fans can get a sneak peek at the new design over social media channels on Sept. 3. At 1 p.m. that day, the new @Nationwide88 Twitter account -- which will provide updates on Junior and his No. 88 team -- will tweet a preview. "Dale is having a season to remember, and Nationwide is excited to launch our new long-term relationship as a primary sponsor this season as he pursues the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship," said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer at Nationwide , in a team release. "We think fans will like the new look of the No. 88 car when they see it hit the track next week in Richmond." Earnhardt, who has three career Sprint Cup wins at the 0.75-mile oval, worked with Nationwide on the design of his car. Richmond will be the only 2014 event with this paint scheme. "I've worked with Nationwide for years, but never as a primary sponsor," Earnhardt said. "Having them on board with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 88 team is a big opportunity, and I really appreciate them inviting me to help design the car. I'm excited for the fans to see it and look forward to kicking off the relationship at one of my favorite race tracks." Earnhardt heads into this weekend's Atlanta race (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) with three wins this season, and he's second in both the driver standings and in the Chase Grid. Earnhardt's 11 top-fives this year lead the series. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule