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Darrell Wallace Jr. heads to Roush Fenway Racing
Driver set to compete in NASCAR XFINITY Series Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final standings this past season and a graduate of NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity initiatives, will compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015 for Roush Fenway Racing , according to RFR officials. Wallace , 21, will join drivers Chris Buescher , Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler in the RFR lineup. Wallace will pilot the organization's No. 6 Ford Mustang previously driven by Trevor Bayne . Additional team personnel and sponsorship will be announced at a later date. "I've had a remarkable journey over the last few years thanks to people who have put me in a position to win the races that I have," Wallace said. "When I first joined the sport, many said I would never compete with the real drivers. Now, as I join the winningest (XFINITY) team in NASCAR history, I take that as a responsibility to add more wins to the team's legacy and help tear down the barriers for the next generation of NASCAR drivers." Wallace won five races from 2013-14 while competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, scoring four this past season. RELATED: Bubba done with KBM as team announces 2015 lineup In 2013, he became the first African American driver to win a NASCAR national series event in 50 years when he won his first Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway . This past year, he successfully defended his title while driving an entry whose paint scheme and number 34 paid tribute to NASCAR's first African American winner, Wendell Scott. Wallace made six career Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY ) Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing , with whom he was under contract, between 2012-14. He finished in the top 10 in four of those starts, with a best finish of seventh at Iowa (in 2012) and Daytona (2014). However, without sponsorship to remain at KBM, and with no funding for him at JGR in the XFINITY Series, Wallace asked for and was granted his release earlier this month. RFR president Steve Newmark said Wallace "is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers." "He has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the race track," Newmark said. "We are looking forward to getting him in our race cars next season." In addition to the four XFINITY Series teams, Roush Fenway also fields teams in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series for drivers Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Greg Biffle . Bayne, who is making the move up to compete full time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015, finished sixth in the Nationwide Series this past season, while Buescher, who won once, was seventh and Reed ninth. Sadler spent the previous two seasons at JGR, finishing fourth in 2013 and third this past year. RELATED: Wallace Jr. receives release from JGR Roush Fenway Racing's XFINITY Series program is the winningest in NASCAR, having earned 133 victories. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (2011-12), Carl Edwards (2007) and Biffle (2002) have won series championships for the group. "We are certainly pleased to have Bubba Wallace come on board," team co-owner Jack Roush said. "He is certainly a great young talent and I feel it will be mutually beneficial for us to be able to put him into a team environment with a veteran driver like Elliott (Sadler) and the young guys Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed . "We have had a great deal of history in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and we are happy to have Bubba as the latest piece of that rich legacy." The addition of Wallace to the Ford camp is a boost for the automaker as well. "We're thrilled to have Bubba Wallace be part of our Ford Mustang racing efforts," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "His winning performances since becoming part of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program have certainly made him one of the drivers in the sport to watch in the future, and we think he can bring a lot to Roush Fenway and Ford, both on and off the track." 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
Tifft, Wallace top XFINITY practices at Talladega
Practice 2: Results Matt Tifft kicked off the weekend strong, topping final NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway . Tifft, who was wheeling the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, earned a fastest lap of 181.918 mph. Next was the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon (181.515 mph), last week's Dash 4 Cash winner. Rounding out the top three was the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Brandon Jones (180.346 mph). The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Daniel Suarez , the current points leader, and No. 51 Chevrolet of Jeremy Clements were fourth and fifth, respectively. The defending race winner Joey Logano finished the 55-minute session 33rd (153.787 mph). Practice 1: Results Darrell Wallace Jr . scooted to the top spot in opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . Wallace wheeled the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford to a best lap of 192.413 mph around the 2.66-mile track. He vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with an aerodynamic boost from teammate Ryan Reed , who clocked the second-fastest lap at 192.355 mph in Roush Fenway's No. 16 Ford. Ty Dillon , last week's winner of the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus from the series sponsor, was third-fastest at 191.827 mph in the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet. Matt Tifft (191.670 mph) was fourth-best in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota with Austin Dillon (190.601) completing the top five in Childress' No. 2 Chevy in early prep for Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 event (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Series points leader Daniel Suarez , in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota, wound up 10th of the 43 drivers to turn laps in the opening 55-minute session. Sprint Cup regular Joey Logano , the defending race winner, was 18th-best in Team Penske 's No. 22 Ford.
Darrell Wallace Jr. shows off his '67 Beetle
Darrell Wallace Jr. talks to NASCAR Illustrated's Steven Levine about his 1967 Volkswagon Beetle.
Bubba Wallace : Helping NASCAR grow one tweet at a time
As the sport of stock car racing evolves, a new generation of drivers is poised to grab the reins of NASCAR. And Darrell Wallace Jr . -- better known as "Bubba," driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the XFINITY Series -- is one of the leaders of that charge. • • • Standing in the Concord, North Carolina-based Roush Fenway Racing museum on a brisk Wednesday morning, Wallace has zero airs about being one of the up-and-coming stars in racing. Dressed smartly in a pullover, flat-bill hat and leather Converse, he arrives promptly, immediately greeting everyone in the crew like old friends. "Time to look pretty now," Bubba tweeted out just prior to an on-camera interview. It has been a busy day for the 22-year-old, who just biked across RFR's campus from the morning pit practice and reveals he's heading to the ZMAX Dragway later in the day before leaving for Bristol Motor Speedway the next morning. But he's young, energetic and ambitious -- with a booming laugh that comes easily. Busy days like this don't seem to wear on him. That same fire and energy translates to the race track. Wallace and crew chief Seth Barbour put together a sixth-place run at the Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway -- a track that's not on Bubba's list of favorites -- and more recently, a career-best third-place at Auto Club Speedway . "We've just been working really hard, never giving up," Wallace said. "Going into Fontana, I didn't expect to finish third -- maybe 23rd the way we were running. … We've just been trying to really make a lot of gains." Nonetheless, it's the races sandwiched between Bubba's strong runs -- Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix -- and a 15th-place result at Texas that the No. 6 driver focuses his attention on when he recounts the early part of the season. "Daytona, Fontana really went our way somewhat. The (others) did not," Wallace said. "We have to focus on why (those) did not and come up with a better game-plan to attack those next handful of races coming up." As Wallace adjusts to his sophomore season, the newly debuted XFINITY Series Chase format adds another element to the competition with its win-and-you're-in format. And Bubba is a fan. "I think it takes the pressure off us, really," he said. "I was talking to (Dale Earnhardt) Junior about it and he said that was the main thing that helped him was kind of relaxing. You get in kind of this consistent run -- obviously if you win, you're in. So, the emphasis is on winning but you can kind of take a step back knowing the points are going to reset as long as you're in the top 12. "So, it's exciting. I'm glad that NASCAR implemented that into the NASCAR XFINITY Series." • • • It's unsurprising Bubba favors the format, as the thrilling nature of the new Chase seems to fit the Bubba Wallace Brand -- something he's constantly building. It's a brand that’s a mixture of sass, humor, heavy metal music and transparency his fans experience through his social-media accounts. It could be a Twitter video of him and best friend/fellow driver Ryan Blaney 's heavy metal cover of a Parkway Drive song or a Snapchat of his plane ride to the track. It could be a tweet that reveals his fear of spiders ("You want an eight-legged thing running at you? Jumping at you? No," he said later) or an Instagram of his hike on the West Coast. No matter the subject, it's pure Bubba. That transparency allows fans to connect with Bubba away from the race track -- a luxury that many fans lack with their favorite drivers. "You get some of the funny tweets that you're not supposed to respond to but you do," Wallace said. "… It's just fun to be able to interact with them (fans). At the track, getting autographs, we get to talk to each other, but that's only two days out of the week. So, throughout, just keep them up with what you're doing." In the process, Bubba is aiding in the sport's growth: He appeared on an episode of the popular television show "American Idol" while in Los Angeles. He suited up for the gridiron and practiced with his childhood favorite Tennessee Volunteers football team. He's befriended rock stars like the band members from Asking Alexandria, bringing them to the race track. Just like that, NASCAR and pop culture have become intertwined. "Aside from what we do for a living, as far as race cars and turning left and going really fast, we have a personal life that we kind of like to show and show fans how we can connect with them," Wallace said. "A lot of fans watch 'American Idol' and I've got a lot of UT fans that follow me, so I've gotten to go to some of those games. And now I (got) to practice with the squad, which (was) really cool and one of the best days of my life. "But we just connect with the fans -- it's all about the fans in this sport," he continued. "We want to keep them engaged and get them to latch on, help build my brand." As the sport evolves, life's natural processes take place: Original, die-hard fans still form the core of NASCAR's audience, but as star drivers retire and up-and-comers make their marks, a younger generation steps into the light in the stands, too. These fans are still passionate -- but they're different. Young stars like Bubba know how to reach them. "I think anything that we do that's exciting, that's fun, that's cool to us is going to attract a new face," Wallace said. "NASCAR's all about bringing new faces in … We're trying to keep a consistent flow through and just trying to make everything exciting." At just 22 years old and at the beginning of a promising career, Bubba represents the future of NASCAR. And that future rocks out to Parkway Drive on the drums.
Scarlett Keselowski already turning left, more tweets
Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Scarlett is making left turns of her own! pic.twitter.com/kfetbP7iYA — Paige (@epaigewhite) May 1, 2016 2. Everyone's face watching Dega last lap pic.twitter.com/rdNjPPmcoV — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) May 1, 2016 3. Back to work today pic.twitter.com/CNyzzTkmwX — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) May 2, 2016 4. Owen and daddy on the way to driver intros today! @KyleLarsonRacin pic.twitter.com/UhFO5ZxwFd — Katelyn Sweet (@Katelyn_Sweet) May 2, 2016 5. No one is safe in our house. Poor helpless lil babe @landoncassill pic.twitter.com/50PlhySXpk — kaitlan cassill (@kaitlancassill) April 26, 2016 6. When in Talladega... #mudbugs pic.twitter.com/nPUJEIEZ0w — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 28, 2016 7. Keelan just hanging with the boys playing some night golf! @RickieFowler @JasonGore59 @cobragolf pic.twitter.com/0FHTbCAs5H — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) May 4, 2016 8. The massage chairs at @PlanetFitness are hard to beat...especially after a weekend of racing at @TalladegaSuperS ! pic.twitter.com/Bo9bSDsQSD — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 3, 2016
NASCAR announces 2017 national series schedules
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 5, 2016) -- NASCAR today announced the 2017 schedules for its three national series, giving fans and stakeholders a significant head start in planning for next season’s thrilling slate. A credit to unprecedented industry collaboration, specifically the five-year sanctioning agreement between NASCAR and its tracks, the sanctioning body finalized its 2017 schedules months ahead of previous years’ release. The result: Three unique schedules featuring race tracks that have hosted record-setting races already this season, with the majority of the slate still remaining. A notable change in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule includes a date swap between a track that just hosted one of the most competitive races in its history, and one that will showcase the lower downforce competition package this coming weekend. Talladega Superspeedway, which last Sunday had the second-highest total of green flag passes for the lead ever recorded (213), will become the second race in the Round of 12 in 2017 (Oct. 15). Kansas Speedway will now become the third and final race in that round (Oct. 22). "Announcing the 2017 national series schedules this early in the season is another example of the collaborative spirit across the NASCAR industry," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "It is an exciting time in NASCAR, with some of the most intriguing racing we’ve seen in years. With the 2017 schedule solidified, the industry can now concentrate on the remainder of this season, while planning for the future much earlier than in previous years." Texas Motor Speedway's spring Cup race shifts to Sunday (April 9), a move expected to produce great racing action like that seen after Richmond International Raceway switched to a Sunday race for the 2016 season. Other changes in the NASCAR Cup schedule include Dover International Speedway's spring date move to June 4, a week after the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28). Michigan International Speedway's second race will return to its traditional early August slot, on Aug. 13. The NASCAR Cup Series 2017 schedule opens with The Great American Race, the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. The season culminates with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. The NASCAR XFINITY Series will kick off at Daytona on Feb. 25, and crown its champion at Homestead on Saturday, November 18. Its schedule features four standalone events -- Iowa Speedway (July 29), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 12), Road America (Aug. 26) and Kentucky Speedway, the first event in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase (Sept. 23). For the second consecutive season, Iowa will host a NASCAR XFINITY Series-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series companion weekend on June 23-24. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opens its season at Daytona on Feb. 24, and culminates at Homestead on Nov. 17. Five standalone races are included among the 2017 lineup: Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 17), Eldora Speedway (July 19), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Aug. 27) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 30). The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase once again begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 23). All races will air on either the FOX or NBC family of networks, MRN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. See below for all three NASCAR national series schedules.
Early release, Chase swap highlight '17 schedule
RELATED: See the full 2017 schedules here NASCAR released its 2017 national series schedules on Thursday -- months prior to the more typical fall arrival -- and among the significant news is a Chase-time swap between two of the tracks on the Cup schedule. Although the order and dates of races in NASCAR's premier series remain mostly intact, a noteworthy change involves swapping the Chase race order at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway . For 2017, Talladega (Oct. 15) will be the second race in the Round of 12 with Kansas becoming the third -- and elimination -- race (Oct. 22) for the Round of 12. This past weekend, Talladega recorded the second-highest number of green-flag passes for the lead in the track's great history (213), and the series heads to Kansas this week for a Saturday night show with its revamped rules package. NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy caught up with reporters Thursday at Kansas Speedway , explaining the dynamics of the schedule swap and the enhancements to the Chase. Cassidy said that with the new reduced downforce package in place, driver input and a team's ability to adjust at an intermediate-sized track would play a greater role in determining eliminations. "I would say it definitely adds a different layer of pressure for the competitors; I would say it adds certainly to the weekend and to the Chase overall," Cassidy said. "But at the same time it does not take away from, on the Talladega side, what the fans are going to get. To me, it's good for the fans on either side because … no matter when you go to Talladega you're going to see a product that is quite frankly some of the most popular racing that we've got on the circuit. Now with Kansas in that spot, you add another layer of complexity to a very compelling playoff format." NASCAR credited an "unprecedented" collaboration among the industry for being able to complete and announce the upcoming 2017 schedule so early in 2016, specifically noting the importance of the five-year sanctioning agreement between NASCAR and its tracks. "Announcing the 2017 national series schedules this early in the season is another example of the collaborative spirit across the NASCAR industry," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said. "It's an exciting time in NASCAR, with some of the most intriguing racing we've seen in years. With the 2017 schedule solidified, the industry can now concentrate on the remainder of this season while planning for the future much earlier than in previous years." RELATED: Explaining the five-year agreement The other big date news is that Dover International Speedway 's spring race will be moved back a month to June 4 -- a week after the Coca-Cola 600 -- versus a date in May this year. And Michigan International Speedway 's second race returns to its traditional August timeframe -- Aug. 13. Texas Motor Speedway 's spring race will also be held on Sunday afternoon, rather than Saturday night. The Cup schedule begins with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 26. Its regular-season finale at Richmond is Sept. 9, with the first round of the 10-stop playoff slate scheduled for Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway . The 2017 champion will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. As for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedules, they will open the new season at Daytona on Feb. 25 and Feb. 24, respectively. The XFINITY Series will feature four stand-alone events -- at Iowa Speedway (July 29), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 12), Road America (Aug. 26) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 23). The Kentucky event opens the NASCAR XFINTY Series Chase. The Camping World Truck Series will host five stand-alone events on its 23-race schedule, including the hugely popular race at Eldora Speedway on July 19. It will kick off its postseason at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 23. Iowa Speedway will again host an XFINITY and Camping World Truck series doubleheader on June 23-24. Contributing: Kenny Bruce in Kansas City. RELATED: Learn more about all 23 Cup tracks
#TBT: Steve Park and Junior crash at Pocono
2002 wreck mirrors Austin's Daytona crash, Rusty Wallace involved, too Austin Dillon 's much-talked about Daytona crash paralleled to a wreck from more than a decade ago in Pocono, with both crashes involving Dale Earnhardt Jr . In 2002, Steve Park was lining up with his competition at Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500, hoping to snag his second top-10 at the track. Park never did see a top-10 finish that day. In fact, he didn't even complete the first lap thanks to a nasty wreck involving Park, Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr . between Turn 1 and 2. The accident was initially sparked by NASCAR Hall of Famer Wallace . Wallace's No. 2 Team Penske Ford hit the wall after the first turn. Park tried to avoid making contact with the spinning Ford and attempted to move sideways. In his quest to dodge out of Wallace's path, he came into contact with teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Dale Jr. got under Park's No. 1 Chevrolet causing both cars to spin onto the grass. While on the grass, Park slammed into an interior guardrail, flipping the car over violently, multiple times. Similar to his reaction to Dilllon's crash, Dale Jr. was concerned about Park's well-being as it took safety workers some time to help him out of his upside-down vehicle. RELATED: 88 crew recalls frenzy to check on Dillon When Junior was able to get out of his own car, he sprinted over to check on his teammate. Not only was it difficult getting Park out of his car, but it led to a 65-minute red-flag caution with repairs to the interior barrier having to take place before the field could go back to green. Park, like Austin Dillon , walked away from the crash just fine and headed to the infield care center arm-in-arm with Junior.
Bubba Wallace , Ryan Reed swap crew chiefs for Mid-ohio
Roush Fenway Racing drivers Darrell "Bubba" Wallace and Ryan Reed have exchanged crew chiefs as well as crews and will being working with their new personnel beginning with this weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex. Chad Norris, previously crew chief for Reed, will move over to head up Wallace's effort in the No. 6 entry while Seth Barbour, formerly with Wallace , will take over the reins of the No. 16 Ford team. Roush Fenway Racing , co-owned by Jack Roush and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, fields four full-time NASCAR XFINITY Series teams, as well as three full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. Chris Buescher , the organization's third NXS driver, currently leads the series points standings after 20 events. His group, led by crew chief Scott Graves, was not affected by Tuesday’s moves. Wallace , competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award honors, is sixth in points with one top-five and seven top-10 finishes this season. He is a five-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series and has 26 starts in the XFINITY Series. Barbour has one career win as a crew chief in the series, with he and Reed going to victory lane in the season-opening event at Daytona International Raceway. Norris has three career wins in NXS competition -- with drivers Matt Kenseth (2005), Marcos Ambrose ('11) and Bayne ('11). The 2015 season is the second full-time effort for Reed, who has 59 career starts and one victory. He is currently 10th in points. Norris "has a successful history working with several different drivers of all experience levels and we are excited to see Ryan … continue to develop under his guidance," RFR President Steve Newmark said. "At the same time Seth Barbour provides tremendous engineering experience to all of our XFINITY Series programs and will bring great leadership to Bubba Wallace ." Newmark said team co-owner Jack Roush "has a history of similar moves, and we have experienced a great deal of success in the past with these types of adjustments. We feel this will provide both teams with renewed energy as we enter the stretch run of the season." Sprint Cup drivers for the RFR group are veteran Greg Biffle , 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and two-time XFINITY Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Saturday's Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. ET start.
Steve Byrnes honored with Squier-Hall Award
RELATED: Steve Byrnes passes away at 56 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NASCAR Hall of Fame honored late broadcaster Steve Byrnes on Saturday at the weather-delayed induction ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center. His son Bryson accepted the Squier‑Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence earlier this afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on behalf of his father, who passed away from cancer in April. "This day is about those who paved the way in our sport," FOX Sports broadcaster Krista Voda said during Byrnes' introduction. "Each of us has a person, the one who guided us, who gave us a blueprint. Steve Byrnes was my person, my mentor, my friend. In April, Steve lost his courageous battle with cancer but not before serving as an inspiration to the entire NASCAR community." The Squier-Hall award is named in honor of legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall and has been presented to influential members of NASCAR media for the past three years. Byrnes' wife, Karen, and son, Bryson, were among the many family members present at the induction ceremony. "Just be nice to others," Bryson Byrnes said on lessons his father taught him. "You know, just enjoy what you do, have a great attitude while doing it, and just always going full out when you do do something, and do what you love, and when you do do it, just do it with a heart and a passion of doing it." RELATED: Through the years photo gallery Drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . and Dale Earnhardt Jr . were among those to tweet tributes and remebrances of Byrnes after Saturday's ceremonies at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I often delete pics but this one has always been in the bank. It's a constant reminder of how great he was! pic.twitter.com/56sgTqRA8A — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) January 23, 2016 One of the best EVER to cover the sport. Steve Byrnes honored with the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence @NASCARHall today. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 23, 2016