Martin Truex Jr. details girlfriend's cancer fight
Martin Truex Jr . detailed his girlfriend Sherry Pollex's 17-month fight with ovarian cancer in a raw and emotional piece posted Monday on The Players' Tribune . Pollex announced Jan. 11 she had completed her final chemotherapy treatment. Among the specifics revealed in the story was the fact that Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser offered to let Truex sit out the remainder of the 2014 season after Pollex was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer on Aug. 7, 2014. "But Sherry and I never considered it," Truex wrote . "We both needed to get back to our normal. And normal for us is racing." Truex wrote about first meeting Pollex more than 10 years ago, and how "being with her was one of those things where you were all-in right from the start. You never really questioned it, you never really thought about it. You just did it because it felt right." Pollex first began experiencing abdomen pain in April 2014, Truex wrote, but because ovarian cancer often is difficult to diagnose, she did not have a CT scan until August. The following week, Pollex had surgery. Wrote Truex: "The surgery was performed on August 15, just a short week after we first heard those words. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., and Sherry was prepped for what we thought was going to be a four-hour procedure. Instead, after seven hours of surgery, which included a radical hysterectomy and the removal of tumors all the way up to her spleen and appendix, the doctor was finally confident that he had removed all “visible” signs of cancer. It was only four months from the time Sherry had initially told me she was having abdominal pain, and the cancer had literally spread everywhere." Worse than the surgery was the chemotherapy that followed, Truex wrote. "Watching Sherry go through the grueling eight-hour chemotherapy sessions every couple of weeks for six months was almost unbearable. She lost her hair and lost 27 pounds from her healthy weight of 120 pounds. She could barely walk from the living room to the kitchen in our home. It was one of the darkest times in our lives." Truex has expanded his Martin Truex Jr . Foundation to focus on both pediatric and ovarian cancer since Pollex's diagnosis. You can read the full story here
Bristol was 'sixth-place victory' for DiBenedetto, BK Racing
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Matt DiBenedetto 's best day in NASCAR's top series nearly ended with the ultimate buzzkill. Driving back Sunday from Bristol Motor Speedway after salting away a career-best sixth-place finish and becoming the provisional leader for feel-good story of the season, the 24-year-old driver saw flashing blue lights not far from his home in Hickory, North Carolina. "Ah, dang, that sucks after a good day,' " DiBenedetto recalled thinking as he pulled to the side of the road. But DiBenedetto didn't think he was over the posted speed limit, a notion that was confirmed when law enforcement approached him. "The cop comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I have one question for you: I just want to know why you were going so darn slow?'" DiBenedetto said. "So then I realized it was a prank." The best of pranks as it turns out. The second-year driver for BK Racing drove the rest of the way with a police escort and with his parents following him home, where he expected a small, muted observance of his stirring Sunday drive. That didn't happen, either, not with the secretive planning of sponsor and close chum Constantine "Cosmo" Kogan, who rallied DiBenedetto's circle of friends into a boisterous welcoming committee, complete with party favors and uncorked bubbly. "There were probably 30-40 people out in our neighborhood," DiBenedetto said with a smile Monday from his BK Racing shop in north Charlotte. "Silly string everywhere. My car was covered. Champagne, the little party popper things -- it was out of control. It was absolutely hilarious. Only my friends, that's just cool to see how much they care and they were all so excited." DiBenedetto's hard-fought sixth-place finish made its own viral turn Sunday, thanks not only to the underdog rooting interest for one of the circuit's smaller teams but also for the unabashed emotion that the driver showed in post-race interviews. As he watched his family wipe away tears off camera, the tremble in his voice became more pronounced. "I couldn't quite hold back the emotion," DiBenedetto said. "I would be lying if I said that I was fighting off the tears, but unfortunately just couldn't hold it back. That was a dream come true for me. I know it wasn't a first-place finish, but for us that was like a win to finish up there in sixth in the Cup Series, which I've dreamed of racing in since I was 5 years old. Just to be here in the first place is a dream come true." Living dreams Making it to the sport's big leagues seemed like destiny, but so often fate takes the curvier road. DiBenedetto seemed earmarked for stock-car racing glory early on as part of the first NASCAR Next class in 2011, then called the NASCAR Next 9. What followed after a successful first season in the K&N Pro Series was a hodgepodge of spot duty in the XFINITY Series, sitting in the driver's seat one week and out the next. "It seem like it's all kind of gone by in a blur," DiBenedetto said. "I was racing K&N, part of the NASCAR Next and then thought my career was done five times in between then and now. It's been so up and down so many times. For me to be here, it's still surreal to think back." Opportunity for DiBenedetto meant pounding the phones and knocking on doors. His big break came shortly before the 2015 season in the form of a race-to-race agreement with BK Racing owner Ron Devine. DiBenedetto said Devine took a substantial chance in hiring a driver without Sprint Cup experience, but the risk was modestly rewarded -- the week-to-week deal turned into a full season with just one DNF and a return invitation for 2016. "Being a rookie in Sprint Cup is way tougher than I gave it credit for," DiBenedetto said of the learning experience. "It's just a whole different level of racing. You have to be so perfect at every single thing you do, down to the level of not losing a half-second on pit road. You have to drive your tail off every single lap of the race to make sure you stay on the lead lap -- everything." Driving his tail off makes for a suitable description of Sunday's spirited drive at Bristol. Carl Edwards captured the checkered flag and punctuated his celebration with his trademark backflip, but he was also head over heels about DiBenedetto's accomplishments, saying, "They finished sixth? Man, that's unbelievable. That's probably tougher than what we did." The driver of the No. 83 Toyota wasn't about to draw a direct comparison with Edwards' feat, but was quick to spread the credit for a banner day among his BK Racing shopmates. "To win in the Sprint Cup Series among the 40 best is incredibly difficult and that takes an amazing amount of talent like Carl Edwards has," DiBenedetto said. "I don't know if I want to say it was harder than what he did, but we're definitely proud of what we did. I'm more proud of all the guys that work on the team, proud of my crew chief … I'm just more proud of my guys, not myself. They're the ones that deserve that good of a finish. They're the ones that are working late nights and dedicating their lives to doing best job they can and putting a good race car underneath me. "It is lot of hard work like Carl did say. That's a total team effort. That's a lot of hard work by my guys. I was just happy to be the one holding the steering wheel and able to drive it up there for them." The camaraderie among the tight-knit group is what made BK Racing 's post-race cheer all the more jubilant with hugs all around. That celebration spread to the shop Monday, with DiBenedetto springing for pizza during the team's lunch break. "A lot of that emotion is shared by this whole team," said Ryan "Frenchie" Dubois, in his second year as BK Racing 's general manager. "We work really hard here and face a lot of obstacles that a lot of other teams aren't faced with. For us to overcome those obstacles and come out of there with a sixth-place victor-, er, sixth-place finish, it's like a victory for the team right now and what we're trying to do for the future." Dubois caught himself, but "sixth-place victory" has a certain ring to it. "To jump to sixth was great," he added. "If we can back that up next week, that'll be a Cinderella story for sure. We just want to be consistent, do everything right. We've got fast cars this year, that's the positive thing. We've got the right people in place, and it's about putting everything together. Once we do all that, we'll get those outcomes more often than not." It's an opinion shared by veteran crew chief Gene Nead, who began working with DiBenedetto in the second half of last season and was atop the pit box for nine Camping World Truck Series victories with Ted Musgrave at the wheel from 2002-05. "It's a definite David and Goliath story, you know what I mean, for a team this small without enough proper funding," Nead said. "You walk out in the shop, there's 60 people. You go into Gibbs', there's 600. It's pretty hard to do what you did with 10 percent of their people." Basking in Bristol Fittingly enough, DiBenedetto was savoring the moment before ever turning a lap Sunday. The California native decided to have some fun with Bristol Motor Speedway 's unique system of drivers selecting their own music for pre-race introductions, taking a page from his wedding reception last August. During his reception, each member of the wedding party selected their own entrance music. His father's comedic take, entering to ZZ Top's "Sharp-Dressed Man" in full beard, hat, sunglasses and guitar, clearly resonated. With his dad's permission, DiBenedetto reprised the role Sunday with gusto, donning the full costume and earning some of the biggest pre-race laughs. "You've got to enjoy it every step of the way, you've got to do fun stuff," DiBenedetto said. "That's what the fans want to see and to get them riled up before the race. That's what it's about." That spirit has been contagious, one that's extended to all corners of the BK Racing shop and that's helped boost the team's morale. "With Matt, for one his attitude is always positive," Dubois said. "He's a very humble driver and very appreciative of the opportunity that he has. We've seen from the beginning with him that he's constantly improved. He's not plateaued like some other drivers have and so we're constantly building with him. We think he's the future of our team and yesterday was a perfect example of what we see, and hopefully everybody else was able to see that, too." Plenty did, based on the outpouring of support on social media and the congratulations he's received privately from well-wishers. DiBenedetto pulled out his phone to show 202 text messages he hadn't had time to respond to, part of the 300-plus pings he estimated he'd accumulated in less than 24 hours. This season's most improbable finish at one of the series' toughest tracks gave DiBenedetto more than TV time, a police escort and a silly-string serenade. It also gave him the rewarding feeling that comes with taking a dark-horse team into the stratosphere usually reserved for the sport's heavyweights. That's why sixth on Sunday meant so much. "Just because we've worked so hard to get here," DiBenedetto said. "To do this without any major funding behind me or family money or anything of that nature, to do it just based on hard work and what teams thought I could do behind the wheel, that's nearly unheard of. To fight that hard and to get here makes you appreciate it that much more."
Cain: Remembering Steve Byrnes one year later
Karen Goins-Byrnes certainly wasn't anticipating this autograph request as she and her teenage son Bryson walked out of the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway infield before last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It wasn't so much "the ask" she received but the canvas she was offered that really stood out. A race fan asked them to sign a flag right next to the signature of her late husband and Bryson's father, Steve, a NASCAR on FOX broadcaster who died on this day, April 21, one year ago after a courageous and well-fought battle with cancer. "You know that on Father's Day and Christmas and Steve's birthday (just last week) those moments are going to be intense, emotional and sad, but then there's these other moments that you completely do not expect that suddenly take your breath away, like the flag on Sunday," Karen Goins-Byrnes shared this week. "I just wasn't expecting that, and all of a sudden it made you realize, 'Oh my goodness, this person is gone from our life.' "I was walking with Bryson and had not anticipated that when we looked down at this flag, wow, there was his signature. And it was just surreal knowing that at some point he had touched that same piece of material; now we we're touching it. Steve's touched everything in this house, so I don't know why that hit me so hard but it was … I don't know, it was out-of-context, unexpected. "I don't think it was a coincidence. It was very impactful for Bryson and I both to see that." RELATED: Steve Byrnes remembered, 1959-2015 In the past year, the Byrnes family has been "adopted" by those close to Steve and also those who never met the longtime NASCAR broadcaster but were touched by his story of courage and strength battling cancer not once but twice. In the time since he passed away Byrnes, then 56, has been honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Squier-Hall Award for media excellence. His likeness and another tribute hang on a large plaque at the Charlotte FOX studios. "Steve was not a person who sought out a lot of attention, he was not the look-at-me type of person," Goins-Byrnes said. "I know he's up in heaven going, 'I had no idea.' He is completely surprised at all the different things that have happened to remember him and honor him. I'm shocked, I know he's shocked too." Drivers, fellow broadcasters and FOX personnel have joined the broader NASCAR community supporting this family in ways both obvious and subtle. Their "new" way of life is still so greatly influenced by the one they miss so dearly. "We're persevering," Goins-Byrnes said, after pausing to select the most accurate description. She and her son don't know quite what to anticipate today -- their feelings and emotions. It will be a very busy schedule of things to do and that was purposeful. On Wednesday, she and Bryson attended a luncheon hosted by FOX Sports in Charlotte, where they posed for photos alongside close family friends Michael Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. There is a wonderful shot of Bryson standing next to a memorial for his father on the studio's wall. Goins-Byrnes, who is now doing part-time work for Charlotte-based Speedway Motorsports Inc., has a professional commitment for part of the day Thursday and will be escorting champion NHRA racer Erica Enders to a Speedway Children's Charities event at Charlotte's Levine Children's Hospital. "It just happened to be the day she's available," Goins-Byrnes said of the timing. "It was funny, when Erica said the 21st, I was like that's the day, but I decided that's the way it's supposed to be, then. Every single month on the 21st will never be just another day for me. Every 21st of the month, I know it's been nine months, 10 months, 11 months. "But honestly, I feel like not continuing to live dishonors Steve. Somebody was asking me about Bryson and I doing a lot of activities. I feel like if we had stopped doing things, that would have dishonored him (Steve). Living and doing things honors him. I certainly know he would not have wanted us to say, 'Oh, I can't do something because it was the 21st of the month.' He would have scolded us and said, 'It's just a date; go and do.' " And actually, Goins-Byrnes concedes, it's the times alone or void of activity that have been most challenging. "People will say, 'It looks like ya'll are doing well, doing good.' But I don't post on social media when we're lying on the floor crying," she said. "There are days that are gut-wrenching and those days you have to keep pushing through, pushing on." Pushing on for Bryson Byrnes has been quite literal. His days, nights and most weekends are filled with sports -- football and lacrosse are favorites. And Bryson isn't only succeeding on the field -- he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this week. "People talk about what an amazing young man he is, and I'll be honest," Goins-Byrnes said adding with a laugh. "He makes straight-As and Steve and I never did that in school. Steve and I used to look at his report cards and go, 'Wow. This must be the nurture part,' because the nature part, we're not responsible for this level of achievement. I can promise you. "We have been blessed with a really good kid. I think God knew what path he was going to ask us to walk and so he gave us a child that was well-equipped." "He still battles, sometimes, the unexpected moments," she said, pausing. "You just hadn't anticipated that even if it's a good thing, it's void of Steve being here." As Goins-Byrnes and I were saying our goodbyes we discussed the cancer battles so deeply affecting so many in NASCAR -- family members and extended family. We weren't sure if it was unusually prevalent among our sport or if circumstances made us more aware. Driver Martin Truex Jr .'s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, finished up her chemotherapy in January, and remains such a positive force travelling around the country to educate others and bring awareness of ovarian cancer. The couple's Catwalk for a Cause event next month -- which raises money for childhood cancers -- is sold out again this year. While the potential for raising funds is high, it will be the most difficult of programs considering four of last year's models and inspirations have passed away -- a first for Truex and Pollex. Among them is my longtime friend Becky's son, Elijah Aschbrenner, 10, who fought a rare Epitheliod Sarcoma diagnosis and passed away on Nov. 11. His family has started the Prayers for Elijah Foundation to raise money and awareness of the disease. RELATED: Cain: Gratitude for Elijah Aschbrenner's inspiration Torie Costa, Scott Zipadelli’s 20-year old step-daughter, died on Christmas day on her second fight with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Grace, 14, passed away after fighting Osteosarcoma. Clint Bowyer 's wife, Lorra, carried an inspirational sign for her at last year's Catwalk because she was too ill to participate. Jeramiah, 8, passed away after battling leukemia, not once but twice. His passing in August was the first of Truex and Pollex's "Catwalk" kids. The great Buddy Baker died in August after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Erik Jones shared last Saturday after his XFINITY Series win at Bristol that his father was recently diagnosed with cancer. Tabitha Burton, Daytona 500 winner Ward’s wife and XFINITY Series racer Jeb's mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and is recovering from the surgeries and treatment. Former NASCAR racer Shawna Robinson continues to recover from her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well. And I'm still fighting breast cancer myself, with multiple surgeries ahead this year. My hair is -- slowly -- growing, I've regained the weight I lost in chemo and radiation, and many of the NASCAR drivers I deal with now are completely unaware of my medical situation -- which can feel like an achievement. Those that do know have been incredibly kind and encouraging. Cancer is, at the very least, a maddening disease, and its impact on NASCAR is similar to its impact in general. We have lost influential souls such as Byrnes and Baker and the promises of so many so young, like Aschbrenner and Costa. Perhaps the brightest and most lasting legacy left by my friend Byrnes was a feeling of "never give up," and the firm knowledge that this is a community that cares greatly and perpetually. Today will be challenging for the Byrnes family and all those who cared deeply for Steve. There will be times of sadness, of laughter, of gratitude for the time shared, and unquestionably a sense of knowing that he would want us to carry on and prevail. "He was a very humble person," Goins-Byrnes said. "He never looked at himself as being exceptional, just a normal guy, a husband and a father and a guy with a job he enjoys. "I think the way people have responded in remembering him really has shown what type of a person he is. They comment, 'What a great guy he is.' You wouldn't believe how many pictures I've received from race fans with him stopping for a picture or to sign an autograph. "I don't think he realized the kind of influence he had. I certainly didn't. I don't think he had any idea how many people he touched and what kind of influence he had.' " I still have text messages from Steve on my phone -- we exchanged many while going through our treatments. One in particular makes my heart happiest and I will most likely glance at it often today. On the Monday after last year's Bristol spring race -- named in Steve's honor -- I texted him to make sure he had watched the race, seen all the tributes and enjoyed the love. He responded: "Still smilin."
Big day for a rookie: Ty Dillon reflects on sixth-place finish
Ty Dillon made the swap work for Tony Stewart at Talladega Superspeedway, bringing the No. 14 home to a sixth-place finish in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 2.66 mile track.
Logano tweets message saying he 'will fight'
What does vague tweet indicate? RELATED: Logano: 'Complete coward move' " Photos of Sunday's incident After a race-leading Joey Logano was wrecked by non-Chaser Matt Kenseth at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, possibly as retaliation for an incident at Kansas Speedway last month, the Team Penske driver has one message for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver: 'I will fight .' pic.twitter.com/4be2cRtDt9 — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) November 2, 2015 It's unclear if Logano is indicating he wants to physically engage Kenseth -- we've seen him be physical before, just ask Tony Stewart -- or if he's just really charged up and motivated to overcome the points deficit he finds himself in after a 37th-place finish. According to the YouTube video for the audio track, " 'I Will Fight' is an audio track recorded by Pastor Steven Furtick to help you get focused and to prepare you for the challenges ahead," and includes a line about how his enemy is "not flesh and blood." That said, the site of Sunday's race -- the second in the Eliminator Round -- is Texas Motor Speedway , which saw Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski , involved in perhaps NASCAR's biggest fracas of all time just last year. Stay tuned. MORE: NASCAR disappointed' " Busch: 'I think it's BS'
Johnson, Harvick take on 'Mortal Kombat', 'Fight Club'
@nascarcasm sets infamous confrontation to famous fight scenes MORE: Harvick shoves Johnson " Can Harvick recover and advance in Chase? RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm
Gordon: ‘We’re going to fight until Richmond’
Jeff Gordon says his crash at Indy was disappointing, but his team is going to fight for a win and a way into the Chase all the way through the race at Richmond.
France talks Texas fight , Chase drama
NASCAR chairman and CEO: 'There is a line' MORE: Official NASCAR release " Penalities issued to crew members, crew chiefs RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Tuesday afternoon in an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the sanctioning body was reviewing the tapes from a post-race fight Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway , and the sanctioning body was prepared to dole out some "harsh punishment." By Tuesday evening, NASCAR had suspended three Hendrick Motorsports crew members for six championship points races and fined $25,000 apiece. A fourth crew member was docked $25,000 and suspended for three races. The crew chiefs for the No. 5 and No. 24 teams, Kenny Francis and Alan Gustafson, were each fined $50,000 and placed on probation for six races. Jeff Gordon approached Brad Keselowski on pit road following the AAA Texas 500 after the two made contact late in the race, which resulted in Gordon cutting a tire and led to a 29th-place finish. He was running in the top-five at the time of the incident. Gordon removed his helmet and walked toward Keselowski as tensions and proximity among the teams' crew members increased. Once Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski closer to the fray, the pushing intensified and some punches were landed. "In particular with the other participants in the sport, crew members or anyone else, … we don't have dugouts or sidelines," France said. "The drivers often are parked in the garage, next to one another. … It's not uncommon at all for someone to express how they feel, with a lot of emotion sometimes. We're good with that, we understand that's part of the game. But there is a line. When things escalate to the level that they did, or anything close to what happened Sunday, we will step in and deal with that very carefully." France also noted that Keselowski's late-race move was one of a veteran going all-out to get the win. "Quite frankly, he did exactly what I would expect any driver with that much on the line to do," France said. "He was looking at an opportunity to shoot a gap, if you will. It was unfortunate they touched and Gordon's tire obviously got cut, which was very unfortunate, but the idea is, that late in the race, things are going to happen when guys are legitimately trying to win races." Keselowski's move, and the emotions that it caused, were the product of a new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in its first year of existence. As for the added drama to the sport? "Welcome to big-time sports with big moments," France said. With two races remaining in the 2014 season, eight drivers are still eligible to win this year's championship. That includes the parties involved in Sunday's incident -- Gordon, Keselowski and Harvick -- as well as Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin , Ryan Newman , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth . Following this Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) four drivers will advance to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at the crown. "I think on balance, we still have a lot of consistency," France said. "Points still matter a lot. … I think we struck the right balance. We like what we see. It's elevating the racing, and that's our No. 1 goal." Newman and Kenseth remain in the title hunt despite both being winless this year. If either driver were to advance to Homestead and win the championship without winning a race, France said the sanctioning body would be "fine" with that outcome. "That could happen in any format that we have," France said. "In any one we've ever had or might have, we may be in that situation. You can have teams in other sports with losing records in the regular season win the Super Bowl or World Series. It happens." In 2010, France talked about the Chase capturing "the essence of Game 7s, eliminations," and with wins guaranteeing drivers a spot in NASCAR's playoffs, those moments can happen in any of the 26 regular-season races. "That's what we're trying to always have," France said. "Even when we're not in the Chase, we want the Daytona 500 , which obviously doesn't fall in the Chase, to be the biggest, most important event it can be. Given that we don't have hundreds and hundreds of races throughout our season -- we only have 36 -- they all ought to mean as much as possible. This Chase is certainly doing that." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Keselowski: ‘I came here to race, not fight ’
Brad Keselowski defends his move on the race track, saying he came here to race, not to fight .
Harvick: ‘He needed to fight his own fight ’
Kevin Harvick comments on the post-race altercations at Texas Motor Speedway, saying Brad Keselowski needs to learn to fight his own fights.