Junior: Jimmie wanted to wear dad's fire suit
RELATED: Instagram post causes PR freak-out Dale Earnhardt Jr . said Monday that Jimmie Johnson had asked him to borrow one of his father's old uniforms to complete his retro look for this weekend's NASCAR throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway . Earnhardt Jr.'s remarks came on Monday's edition of the "Dale Jr. Download," a 70-minute episode that he co-hosted on his Dirty Mo Radio network. Earnhardt did not provide a health update on the concussion-related symptoms that have forced him to miss the last six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, but offered an anecdote about his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, who will be running a blue-and-yellow paint scheme on his No. 48 Chevrolet that pays tribute to Earnhardt's father and the legendary David Pearson -- both NASCAR Hall of Famers. "He's texting me, he's like, 'You got one of your dad's old uniforms and all that stuff?' " Earnhardt said of a recent exchange with Johnson. "He wanted to actually wear it to intros, and it would fit probably. It smells like … every bit of 40 years old." Earnhardt Jr. clarified that Johnson had asked about a different uniform than the one from the 1982 season that he recently modeled on social media. He also had to clarify for Johnson the level of Lowe's involvement with stock-car racing back in 1979, the elder Earnhardt's rookie season. "He sends me a picture of this car, and I said 'David Pearson ran second in that car at Talladega in relief for my father,' " Earnhardt Jr. said. "My father was out four weeks with broken collarbones (from a crash at Pocono), and David drove that car, ran second. That was the only race Lowe's was on the hood. I don't know why. Must've been a local chain, but they had Lowe's on the hood for that race, and that race only. "And so, it's kind of unique, kind of weird. Jimmie gets excited about it and then I have to tell him the story. He's like, 'Man, I'm going to run one of your Dad's throwbacks,' and I'm like, 'Well, David Pearson drove that car and Lowe's was on the hood for just that race,' but it's still really cool. I've always wondered what that paint scheme would look like on one of the modern cars." Earnhardt will be replaced by interim driver Jeff Gordon in this Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) as his recovery from concussion-related issues continues. Earnhardt said he was "real sad" he won't be driving his own throwback paint scheme, a No. 88 Chevrolet that pays homage to Buddy Baker's "Gray Ghost" look from the early 1980s. Alex Bowman made his second substitute start last weekend at Michigan International Speedway , placing 30th after slowing early with engine trouble. Still, Earnhardt Jr. gave him a vote of confidence. "That was disappointing. I know Alex was upset," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He doesn't know how many opportunities like that he'll get to show he's capable. I believe in him, and I know he's got the ability to do it, to be in the Cup Series and to be in a competitive car and do a good job behind the wheel. It was a shame because I think he could've shown again -- like he did at New Hampshire -- that he belongs." Though Earnhardt Jr. will sit out Sunday's event at Darlington, co-host Mike Davis -- brand and communications director for Earnhardt and his JR Motorsports team -- teed up what's scheduled to be a busy week for the 41-year-old driver. Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to participate in competition meetings Tuesday, before traveling to a Wal-Mart in Lewistown, Pennsylvania , for a Wednesday driver appearance. Wednesday's schedule also includes an interview on Nickelodeon's "NASCAR Hammer Down" program, hosted by Karsyn Elledge, Earnhardt Jr.'s niece. Earnhardt's JR Motorsports organization in the NASCAR XFINITY Series also has a busy week on tap. Davis said JRM planned to unveil nostalgic paint schemes for its three Darlington entries, which will be piloted by XFINITY regulars Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler , plus Sprint Cup star Kevin Harvick . &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;
'Humbled' Sadler puts team, sponsor limbo behind him
RELATED: OneMain extends pact with JRM, Sadler ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- In the span of less than two months, NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler had a secure ride and sponsor, lost a secure ride and sponsor then gained a secure ride and sponsor, all with the same team … and sponsor. Dizzy? Don't blame you. OneMain Financial had sponsored the NASCAR veteran for several years, following him from team to team, but informed Sadler and JR Motorsports earlier this summer that after an executive shakeup following a merger with Springleaf Holdings that they would be exiting the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 season. The news was shocking, given their status as the longest-running XFINITY Series primary sponsor and Sadler being on pace for his most successful campaign since he started racing in the series full-time in 2011. It was equally as stunning when JRM General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller announced a multiyear extension with OneMain and Sadler on Wednesday, a complete 180 from where things were headed. "We were ecstatic when we found out that they had come back and had started talking to Kelley and Dale (Earnhardt Jr., JRM owner) to maybe further this relationship," Sadler told NASCAR.com Friday at Road America , site of Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). " … This all came together really quick and really late, like just here in the past couple days. It's neat how it's all come together pretty fast. " … I was proud when I found out that they were deciding to come back and they really wanted me to be their spokesperson and their head guy for racing. Man, I'm humbled by that. OneMain's a great sponsor. I've been with them over a decade. All that put together, I'm humbled that they still want me to be a part of their brand and still be a part of their company. I think definitely it's a no-brainer to be a part of JR Motorsports in this particular division." While Wednesday's announcement was a welcome sight for the industry -- nobody likes to see a sponsor leave the sport, let alone one with such a long-standing, visible relationship with a single driver -- it was certainly an unprecedented head-scratcher. What, exactly, had happened in the past month-plus to have OneMain change their minds? "One thing I've learned, and the most important thing I've learned, is in a merger, there's a lot going on, man," Sadler said. "There's only so many hours in a day and there's only so many things that you can look at; charts and stats and information. I think once they got all the merger stuff straight and they could really take a good, deep look into the racing program, into NASCAR, into the demographics between their customers and NASCAR, I think they really started to kind of see that 'Hey, this is maybe … this looks pretty good.' "NASCAR is a pretty wide sport. I think they learned they had customers in California that were race fans, they had customers in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Texas and Florida and everywhere in between and it's going to be, 'Wow, maybe this is a direct correlation between the two. We might need to look at this.' " Being the points leader, a favorite in the first-ever XFINITY Series Chase and an employee of NASCAR's most popular driver definitely wasn't a hindrance, either. RELATED: Series Chase Grid "I think it doesn't hurt the way we're running. I think that's a big part of it. It 100 percent doesn't hurt to be associated with JR Motorsports and Junior Nation. Kelley and Dale and (JRM Brand Director & Communications) Mike Davis and their staff; what they do in digital consumption and stuff off the track … there's no other team even close in the garage. I think once you throw all that together and seeing the response and the people you're reaching is why the reconsideration was done and why they decided to stay here for a couple more years." Had this all not come together, however, Sadler indicated that in terms of a backup plan, he "never really messed with (looking at) other options." In fact, retirement was starting to creep into the 41-year-old's thoughts, ever so slightly. "I just kind of was looking at … 'This might be it.' I didn't know, but I didn't want to take away from what we were doing here. It's the best chance I've had in a long time to make a great run to Homestead. We're leading in the points and we're running good and we've got a good string of finishes going and we've been fast every week. I didn't want to … you can only control what you can control. I've been a part of the sport long enough that I didn't want to go off and start fishing and doing other things and taking away from what my job is, and that's showing up prepared every week. I'm not going to tell you that it hasn't been hard. The last month and a half, I haven't slept much, I'll be honest with you. It's been tough and priorities have been shifted some and wondering what's going to happen.” Sleep should come a bit easier now for the veteran, at least until the Chase starts at Kentucky later this year. Gratitude does, as well. " … For all of that to come together and be able to be the lucky one to stand here and talk to you about it … " said Sadler, " … it's pretty humbling and I'm pretty thankful to have that opportunity."
Snapshot: Pennsylvania 400
All the top storylines heading into Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 -- the 21st race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and second event at Pocono.
Best in-car audio from the Pennsylvania 400
From weather delays to fierce on-track action check out the best in-car audio from the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Post-Race Reactions: Pocono Mountains 125
Listen to what all the top finishers ahd to say about today's Pocono Mountains 125 .
Pocono Raceway adds XFINITY race for '16
Pocono Raceway officials announced Tuesday the addition of a NASCAR XFINITY Series event to the track's 2016 racing schedule. The 250-mile race is scheduled for Saturday, June 4, and will be part of a three-race weekend at the 2.5-mile track. The Sprint Cup Series' Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 is slated for Sunday, June 5 while the Pocono 200 ARCA Racing Series event will kick off the weekend's racing activities. It will be the first appearance for the XFINITY Series at Pocono, which has hosted NASCAR-sanctioned events since 1974. Track president and CEO Brandon Igdalsky said race fans "have been asking for this to happen for several years." Comcast, parent company of series sponsor XFINITY , is based in Philadelphia. "From Day 1 we've been focused on enhancing the way fans experience NASCAR and highlighting the competition and youth in the XFINITY Series," Matt Lederer, director of sports brand marketing for Comcast, said. "The addition of an event at Pocono Raceway in our home state ... will help carry the momentum built in the first year of our partnership into 2016." In addition to the June race weekend, the Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for July 31 at Pocono, along with the Pocono Mountains 150 Camping World Truck Series race and Modspace 125 ARCA event. Camping World Truck Series teams have been competing at Pocono since 2010 while the ARCA Series began competing at the track in 1987. "Pocono is a very unique track," current XFINITY Series points leader Chris Buescher said. "I'm excited that we are adding a new track to the XFINITY Series schedule. I've raced there a considerable amount in the ARCA Series and have always enjoyed it. It will be a good challenge for the XFINITY teams."
Dillon shows durability, skill in fourth-place finish
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Austin Dillon didn't think his team had a winning car this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway . His performance on the track begged to differ, as Dillon powered his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the front, battling eventual race winner Kevin Harvick for the lead before earning a solid fourth-place result in Sunday's rain-delayed event at the short track. Coupled with his victory in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol Friday night, Dillon's weekend in the Appalachian Mountains turned into his best combined series effort he's seen all season. But he and his team had to fight for it. "We had a car that we had to really work on all day," a red-faced and worn-out-looking Dillon said on pit road after the race. "I tell you what, my butt's kicked right now. We just had to really fight hard early in the race, we about went a lap down and they made good adjustments to put us back in the race. "Proud of (crew chief) Slugger (Labbe), proud of my pit crew – they really stepped up and that means a lot getting ready to what we're going into." After restarting third at Lap 450, the 26-year-old driver moved into the second position behind Harvick three quick laps later, putting Dillon in position to challenge the No. 4 driver for the lead. The No. 3 wheelman fought to overtake Harvick for eight laps, looking for momentum in the inside lane. He made it look effortless, but Dillon assures it was anything but. "I was really proud of that little short run we had on the bottom," Dillon said. "Harvick was pretty loose and I got to his door. Just didn't have enough to really do much on the top. (I was) holding on for my dear life there at the end." Sitting 13th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, Dillon finds himself in a relatively comfortable points position with three races remaining until the playoffs begin. But Dillon & Co. aren't just looking for "good points days"-- they're looking for a win. That long-waited victory could very well come next weekend at Michigan International Speedway . "I'm racing like I'm in the playoffs right now, for sure," Dillon said. "We've still got a lot of work to do. Really looking forward to Michigan, probably my best track, so hopefully we can go win one and not have to worry about it for two weeks." Crew chief Slugger Labbe also has his sights set on the Irish Hills, having circled it following the team's 13th-place run at Pocono in August. "Last time at Michigan we ran extremely well with the low downforce package," Labbe told NASCAR.com on pit road. "We're taking the same car back that we had at Pocono that ran extremely well at Pocono battling for the lead against Kyle Larson … so we're just hoping for big things. "After Pocono, he was kind of mad that we didn't finish at good as we wanted so I told everyone on this team to make sure we circle Michigan and that's the one we're going to win. So, we're going to shoot really hard for it, prepare, do the best we can and give it our best shot at Michigan."
Alfalla retakes points lead on last-lap pass at Michigan
Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) captured his second victory of the 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series by passing Brad Davies off Turn 4 on the final lap at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday evening. The finish marked the second-straight race that has been decided by a last-lap pass for the lead, although unlike one race earlier at Watkins Glen, there was no contact or controversy after the Michigan thriller. Davies played a good strategy to take the lead during the last round of pit stops and held the top spot for 20 laps due to repeated crashes and yellow flags. Alfalla had the better car and was on fresher tires, but never got a long enough run to challenge for the lead. His chance finally came on the final restart with two laps to the flag. When the green flew, Davies got a good jump on Alfalla, but the two-time series champion had closed up to the leader's bumper as the pair took the white flag. Alfalla was not close enough entering Turn One so instead of charging in over his head he was patient, backed up the corner, and got a great run on exit. Alfalla closed quickly down the backstretch and dove to the bottom entering Turn 3 as Davies protected the top. His fresh tires were too much for Davies as Alfalla passed uncontested off Turn 4 and took the checkered flag .05 of a second in the clear. Logan Clampitt ( High Performance Motorsports ) came home third, combining a solid pit strategy with a fast car and steady driving. Justin Bolton ( The TEAM ) was fourth, ahead of Andrew Fayash in his first top-five result. Alfalla started on pole and had the fastest car for much of the race but only led 46 of 125 laps, largely due to pit strategy. Instead of changing two tires and losing position on a subsequent long run, Alfalla opted for four fresh tires each time down pit road. This decision meant he had to fight through traffic on several occasions, but Alfalla used his experience to cleanly and effectively move through the field. During the middle segment of the race the field strung out and allowed some differing strategies to develop. Some sim racers chose a three-stop strategy in hopes fresh tires would make up for the extra trip down pit road, while others opted for a two-stop strategy. Alfalla chose the two-stop strategy and was helped out by a timely yellow flag on Lap 81 just before he was going to make his final pit stop. All but one car on the three-stop strategy also chose to pit, allowing Alfalla to keep nearly all of his track position, which put himself in prime position to win the race. From there, the race turned into a series of short sprints broken up by frequent caution flags. Seven of the nine cautions flew in the last 45 laps, making track position more important than a typical Michigan race. The win vaulted Alfalla back into the championship lead with three races remaining in the season. He now enjoys a 15-point advantage over PJ Stergios ( ineX Racing Team ) after Stergios struggled to a 14th-place finish at MIS. PJ's brother, Jake, is still hanging onto third, but his margin over Chris Overland shrunk to just four points after a Tuesday's disappointing 31st-place result. Dylan Duval is fifth, but is only seven points clear of Kenny Humpe after finishing 35th at Michigan. Only three weeks remain in the 2016 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze season, and Darlington Raceway looms large as the next race on the schedule. Widely considered to be the toughest oval on the circuit, Darlington requires impeccable car control and patience to succeed. For Alfalla and Stergios, the goal is simple: get out front and stay there, away from potential carnage that can be common farther back in the field. Can Stergios close the gap on Alfalla, or is Alfalla primed to edge closer to his third world championship? Tune-in to iRacing Live in three weeks to catch the sim racing action from The Track Too Tough to Tame!
Top 10 consecutive lap averages at Bristol
Opening practice 10-lap averages Position Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin 61 70 126.740 2 21 * Ryan Blaney # 26 35 126.485 3 2 Brad Keselowski 19 28 126.219 4 47 AJ Allmendinger 15 24 126.207 5 4 Kevin Harvick 47 56 126.191 6 43 Aric Almirola 40 49 126.128 7 19 Carl Edwards 34 43 126.016 8 3 Austin Dillon 14 23 125 .907 9 24 Chase Elliott # 26 35 125 .692 10 1 Jamie McMurray 30 39 125 .665 11 18 Kyle Busch 43 52 125 .476 12 20 Matt Kenseth 49 58 125 .457 13 27 Paul Menard 38 47 125 .326 14 83 Matt DiBenedetto 3 12 125 .295 15 13 Casey Mears 2 11 124.799 16 15 Clint Bowyer 28 37 124.470 17 14 Tony Stewart 3 12 124.252 18 95 Michael McDowell 20 29 124.240 19 10 Danica Patrick 58 67 124.231 20 5 Kasey Kahne 51 60 124.134 21 41 Kurt Busch 4 13 124.089 22 22 Joey Logano 40 49 123.951 23 30 * Josh Wise 13 22 123.902 24 38 Landon Cassill 19 28 123.526 25 31 Ryan Newman 38 47 123.498 26 34 Chris Buescher # 48 57 123.189 27 23 David Ragan 12 21 123.091 28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 35 44 123.043 29 48 Jimmie Johnson 39 48 123.032 30 88 Jeff Gordon 50 59 122.389 31 16 Greg Biffle 51 60 122.260 32 44 Brian Scott # 29 38 122.232 33 6 Trevor Bayne 36 45 122.182 Final practice best 10-lap averages Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 11 Denny Hamlin 2 11 127.193 2 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 127.015 3 24 Chase Elliott # 1 10 126.865 4 31 Ryan Newman 5 14 126.811 5 20 Matt Kenseth 26 35 126.669 6 2 Brad Keselowski 33 42 126.660 7 19 Carl Edwards 62 71 126.273 8 4 Kevin Harvick 67 76 126.086 9 14 Tony Stewart 4 13 126.038 10 21 * Ryan Blaney # 4 13 125 .966 11 5 Kasey Kahne 7 16 125 .906 12 41 Kurt Busch 1 10 125 .826 13 48 Jimmie Johnson 54 63 125 .789 14 47 AJ Allmendinger 10 19 125 .473 15 3 Austin Dillon 6 15 125 .441 16 16 Greg Biffle 38 47 125 .431 17 88 Jeff Gordon 6 15 125 .231 18 42 Kyle Larson 48 57 124.631 19 34 Chris Buescher # 50 59 124.585 20 1 Jamie McMurray 2 11 124.538 21 13 Casey Mears 4 13 124.432 22 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr . 5 14 124.285 23 95 Michael McDowell 41 50 124.260 24 15 Clint Bowyer 4 13 123.988 25 27 Paul Menard 25 34 123.696 26 6 Trevor Bayne 13 22 123.611 27 22 Joey Logano 50 59 123.400 28 44 Brian Scott # 39 48 123.245 29 83 Matt DiBenedetto 15 24 122.606 30 23 David Ragan 1 10 120.742 31 30 * Josh Wise 11 20 120.246
Suarez tops lone Bristol practice, rain cancels final session
RELATED: Get full results Joe Gibbs Racing 's Daniel Suarez was first on the speed charts Thursday for a shortened XFINITY Series opening practice at Bristol Motor Speedway . Suarez, who enters the weekend second in points, posted a quickest lap of 126.046 mph in his No. 19 Toyota. NASCAR called practice a few minutes early due to threats of rain at the Tennessee short track. After Suarez was Regan Smith in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, earning a fast lap of 125 .782 mph. The No. 18 JGR Toyota of Kyle Busch ( 125 .716 mph), the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon ( 125 .330 mph) and the No. 20 JGR Toyota of Erik Jones ( 125 .036 mph) completed the top five. RCR's Ty Dillon -- making his 100th series start this weekend -- was eighth-fastest in his No. 3 Chevy (124.768 mph). Series points leader Elliott Sadler finished the session 15th (124.018 mph) in the No. 1 JR Motorsports entry. On-track action for the series was scheduled to pick back up at 3:30 p.m. ET for final practice, but was canceled due to persistent rains hitting the track and surrounding areas. The field returns Friday for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBC Sports App) at 3:15 p.m. ET ahead of the Food City 300 (7:30 p.m. ET, USA, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).