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Purple punch: Earnhardt Jr.'s classic North Wilkesboro memory
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't begin his career in NASCAR's premier series until 1999, three years after the series had moved on from North Wilkesboro Speedway. But Earnhardt Jr., a student of NASCAR history, did compete at the .625-mile track, racing a Late Model entry on at least a couple of occasions. "I ran the Sun Drop (sponsored) car there," Earnhardt Jr. recalled. "Actually, I think we went there twice. With the Sun Drop car I remember qualifying 19th or something; I don't remember how many cars were there but I'm sure they sent a few home so it was cool to make the race." The contentment was short-lived. According to Earnhardt, he "T-boned a guy and had to run the rest of the race with no fenders or hood or anything. So it wasn't a whole lot of fun." The following year, all three Earnhardt siblings -- Earnhardt Jr., older brother Kerry and older sister Kelley -- made the trek to the legendary track to compete in the Late Model race. None of the three managed to qualify, a situation that didn't sit well with their father and team owner, Dale Earnhardt. "Dad had assumed that I would make the race because we'd been running so good at Myrtle Beach," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He said, 'You guys run this race' and there was a race at Myrtle Beach that night; he was going to fly us in his King Air to the beach so we could compete that night and stay in the track points (battle)." But when Dale Jr. failed to make the show, "He told me and my guys to screw off, that we had to drive the damn van all the way from North Wilkesboro to Myrtle Beach to try to make the race. "We had to hustle; we barely made it. He was pissed off that all three cars missed the race." MORE: How end of "tire war" started at track Failing to qualify and having to drive all day to that night's race wasn't the only issue. An incident with "questionable" fuel also took place, but Earnhardt Jr. laughs when he recounts the incident today. "I had a jug of trick fuel for my car," he said. "It was a purple gas jug. We kept it in that purple gas jug so we wouldn't mix it up with the other fuel. It was probably Elf fuel or something just to give my car a little more speed. Or it might have had some propylene oxide in there or something. "One of Kerry or Kelley's guys walked over to get some gas for their car and grabbed the purple jug and a fight ensued between their crew and my crew; it sort of let the cat out of the bag that whatever was in that jug was pretty special. That was kind of comical." Something to laugh about, no doubt, on the long drive from the hills of North Wilkesboro to the sands of Myrtle Beach. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
How the 'tire war' was won -- at North Wilkesboro
RELATED: North Wilkesboro, 20 years later MORE: Classic Dale Jr. story: Angry dad, purple gas jug In the late 1980s, NASCAR's twofold quest for speed and success took a sharp turn as tire supplier Goodyear introduced the radial tire to the sanctioning body's premier series. Bias-ply tires had been the standard for stock car competition from the very beginning. But radial tire technology had vastly improved, and major open-wheel series had already made the swap to radials. Off the track, radials had also begun replacing bias-ply as the tires of choice for passenger vehicles. But the bias-ply tires still used in NASCAR provided teams with another tool in the toolbox, a way to "tune" the car's setup through the use of air pressures and tire stagger (the variation in the circumference of the car's tires), something radial tire technology couldn't duplicate at the time. Goodyear officials were working toward implementing radials in NASCAR when the company got an unexpected push from Hoosier Tire Company in 1988. The competition between the two was fierce, and not without consequences. "Softer" tires produced by both brands generated higher speeds, but durability faltered. The "fall-off" in the product led to numerous tire failures and hard crashes. The following year, Goodyear officials rolled out radial race tires in an effort to provide both speed and durability. It was an ongoing project -- problems before the season-opening Daytona 500 forced the company to withdraw its product for that event. It wasn't until the spring race of 1989 at North Wilkesboro that Goodyear debuted the radial tire that officials felt was far more durable and could provide the necessary consistency and speed. "We were going to step through it," said Greg Stucker, head of race tire sales for Goodyear. "We were going to introduce them at the short tracks and then slowly step into the other race tracks." Rusty Wallace, driving for team owner Raymond Beadle, won the pole after the Blue Max team made the switch to Hoosiers. "We knew the Hoosiers were quick," Stucker said. "We also knew that the radials were extremely good over the long run. We went the first 100-some odd laps under green, which you don't do at North Wilkesboro very often. And Rusty got lapped, I think, about Lap 70." Dale Earnhardt won the race, thanks in part to the Richard Childress team's use of the Goodyear radials. "I still have that car," Childress said. "That's one of my favorite cars I have on display because I didn't re-do the body on it. I made the rest of them look real nice, but that car is still beat up; it has the Dale Earnhardt look still left on it. All the fenders beat in, the sides, and a set of the very first radial tires. "That's why we kept that one. It was the first win anybody had on radial tires. And everybody said 'That's going to be the end of Dale Earnhardt; he won't be able to run on them radial tires.' Well, we went out there and won the first race on them." The tire war eventually ended – Hoosier pulled out of the sport in mid-1989, returned for the ’94 season with its own radial tire, but departed at year's end due to a lack of sales. "It couldn't have worked out better for us to demonstrate how strong and how consistent the radial was," Stucker said. "The race really played into our hands pretty well. I think it was a good demonstration to everybody that this was a good package. "You know they say you have good days and bad days in racing? That was definitely one of the best days I've had at the race track. It was a good one." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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
Weather cancels final Sprint Cup Series practice at 'Monster Mile'
RELATED: Live weather updates " Weekend schedule Saturday's on-track action started well for the second Sprint Cup practice at Dover International Speedway -- home of this weekend's Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series races. But sprinkles turned to heavier rain with 15 minutes left in that practice, bringing out the red flag after 45 minutes of the 55-minute session. XFINITY Series qualifying was also off to a good start, but was scrapped before concluding, handing Erik Jones the pole position. Final Sprint Cup practice was set for 1:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App), but was ultimately canceled due to inclement weather. The day at Dover will be capped off by the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive Sober 200 at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Friday's Sprint Cup Coors Light qualifying was canceled due to persistent rain. The field was set by owner standings, allowing Brad Keselowski to start P1 for the second time this year. The Sprint Cup Series will return to the track tomorrow for the Citizen Soldier 400 at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). &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;gt;
Jason Redman's Indy experience as Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner
Jason Redman recaps his experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being named Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner.
NXS Garagecam hits the Monster Mile at Dover
Host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Dover International Speedway as drivers prepare for the second race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
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.
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;
Starting lineup for Zippo 200 at The Glen
See the full lineup for the XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen -- Watkins Glen International.
Full schedule for Dover and Las Vegas
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series will gather for a doubleheader showing at Dover International Speedway this weekend. The Camping World Truck Series will race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Check out the full schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, SEPT. 30: ON TRACK: Dover -- 10-11:25 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 1:30-2:55 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 3:40 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ***CANCELED DUE TO RAIN*** ( Results ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 1 p.m. NASCAR XFINITY Series PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 8:30 a.m.: Chris Buescher -- 8:45 a.m.: Chase Elliott -- 9 a.m.: Jamie McMurray -- 9:15 a.m.: Jimmie Johnson -- 9:45 a.m.: Erik Jones -- 12:30 p.m.: Martin Truex Jr . -- 12:45 p.m.: Regan Smith -- 4:40 p.m. approx.: Post-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying DAILY ROUNDUP -- Larson tops practice speeds in opening round at Dover -- Hendrick Chase surge a group effort SATURDAY, OCT. 1: ON TRACK: Dover -- 10:30-11:25 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series second practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 11:45 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, CNBC/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 1:30-2:20 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ***CANCELED DUE TO RAIN*** -- 3 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive Sober 200 ( 200 laps, 200 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 10 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5 p.m. approx.: Post-NASCAR XFINITY Series race ON TRACK: Las Vegas -- 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice ( Results ) -- 1-2 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice ( Results ) -- 6:10 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS2 ( Follow live ) -- 8:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series DC Solar 350 (146 laps, 219 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, OCT. 2: ON TRACK: Dover -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Citizen Soldier 400 (400 laps, 400 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5:30 p.m. approx.: Post-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race